By Deena Levenstein, tour by Phil
Phil, a Touring Israel guide, took me on a one-day tour of the Old City of Jerusalem with a focus on the three major monotheistic religions and their connections to the city.
Part I: Jaffa Gate – Two Stories Behind Every Stone
This is part II, about Christ Church.
- Christ Church, the Old City of Jerusalem
Hidden inside a courtyard on The Armenian Patriarchate Street is Christ Church, two minutes inside the Old City walls from Jaffa Gate. Phil asked for permission to go in – got a yes as he always does – and we went into the church sanctuary.
“What do you notice?” he asked as we sat there in the expansive room.
Here, take a look:
I noticed many things…
There is Hebrew in a church, a Jewish menorah (the candelabra in the background), a star of David and… a strange lack of crosses.
Truthfully, what I noticed more than anything was that this church feels a lot like a synagogue.
And he told me its story.
Christ Church in Jerusalem was built in the late 1800s when Protestant Christians came to Israel in order to save the souls of the local Jews. In order to attract the target audience, the church was designed in this way.
But, Phil said, there is a cross. Could I find it? I looked in all directions. And then he pointed up…
- The wooden ceiling of Christ Church is one huge cross.
The local Jewish community at the time was Orthodox and there was not much success in bringing them into the church. Other tactics included creating hospitals and girls’ schools for the Jewish community – both very needed at the time. The hope was that via this assistance, the local Jews would begin to open up to the Christian message.
But, alas, again the Jews did not take the bait. For the most part they weren’t even willing to make use of these Christian institutions. And, actually, these efforts led to an unexpected byproduct – local Jews began creating their own hospitals and schools for girls.
And that is how Christ Church saved the local Jews.
The tranquil church gardens
The peaceful environment inside the church grounds is such a contrast to that on the bustling road just outside. Phil took me to a beautiful, hidden garden behind the church:
This little piece of artwork
And then he showed me one last thing – an amazing piece of art found in the church’s storage.
It is a painting of Jerusalem before anything was built outside the Old City walls (for much of history the “Old City” was the entire city). It’s fascinating to stare at the empty hills outside the walls and the intricate details of famous buildings inside the walls. Here is a close up of the Jewish quarter in this artwork – Phil pointed out synagogues one can clearly see in the piece:
- Close up of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in the artwork
Next stop? The Room of the Last Supper. Which is also a possible tomb of King David and a once-functional mosque. Stay tuned! And meanwhile…
Please meet Phil the tour guide
- Meet Phil (on the right:)
Phil is a lively, fun tour guide, originally from Chicago. He truly believes being a tour guide in Israel is the best job there is, he is friendly and respectful towards everyone along the way and he takes it on as his duty to entertain and educate with enthusiasm for as long as you, his guests, have energy.
Phil can easily guide families with kids by making most anything fun. He did this for me and not only did I laugh, I also was finally able to learn things I’ve had trouble with in the past.
One more thing about Phil, in a country full of all kinds of religious personalities and a history steeped in religion, being guided by someone who has studied comparative religion makes the tour that much more intricate and interesting.
Be in touch with us to find out more about our guides and our luxury tours to Israel.
Photos by Deena Levenstein
Subscribe to our newsletter
you may also like
A Message From Joe Yudin – CEO
Travel to Israel has changed dramatically. When I first got into this business about 20 years ago people wanted to see…February 4, 2016
The story of Magdala in the Galilee
One cold winter morning I drove over to Magdala Center by the Sea of Galilee, to finally learn about the exciting findings that were excavated in this place I’d been hearing about for years. This is what I learned…August 21, 2015
Israeli chefs bring Sabra flavor to the table, and into your kitchen
It’s finally the period known in Israel as ‘acharei hachagim,’ or, after the holidays, offering the return to routine that everyone…October 15, 2017
Outside The Box – Touring Israel featured in OutThere Magazine
We invite you to read this fantastic article (below) written by journalist Uwern Jong and featured in the current issue of…January 10, 2018
Feast on a ruby red pomegranate this New Year
With Rosh Hashanah and the rest of the holiday season around the corner, it’s a sign that pomegranate season is upon…September 11, 2017
Dreidel times, for the top that never stops
Ever wondered how the dreidel came to be a Chanukah pastime? Turns out — pun intended — that the spinning top…December 4, 2017
Kinneret with the kids
Water sports, a beautiful boardwalk and gorgeous views – 5 fun things to do with kids by the Sea of GalileeNovember 27, 2015
4 Traditions That Define Shavuot in Israel
Harvesting wheat in Israel Shavuot, one of the three pilgrimage holidays to Jerusalem in the Jewish calendar, is one of the…May 22, 2015
33 Flavors at the Mahane Yehuda Market – Part I
Walking through Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market with Chef Tali Friedman is like walking through a toy store with a child who has learned the toys off by heart and knows exactly which are his favorites and why.June 19, 2015