Category Archives: Holy Land Pilgrimage

Free Day, Odds and Ends, Bob “Swish” Sharp

View of the Dome of the Rock looking over the rooftops of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem


Views from the Ramparts: A wall that gives some privacy but lets the breeze through!


Semi-private laundry lines.


An urban schoolyard in the Old City of Jerusalem.


Making the most of a small back porch.


EXCLUSIVE REPORT–Breaking International News!

It started out as a group of five American tourists out to walk the Ramparts atop the wall of the Old City.  In the sun of the late morning the group came upon the basketball court for De La Salle Christian Brothers High School in the corner of the Christian Quarter.  A group of High School boys were shooting baskets when Bob “let me shoot the ball” Sharp felt a sudden divine inspiration.  High atop the wall he called down to the court and asked for the ball.  The boys gawking in disbelief  thinking that it might be the late UCLA coach John Wooden–come back to life–obliged and tossed the ball up to Bob Sharp.  In one smooth motion Sharp took the basketball into his hands, lined up his shot (well behind–and above the 3pt. line) and then let the ball fly.  Seemingly traveling in slow motion–the ball traveled a rainbow arc and as all eyes watched time itself seemed to stand still–until SWISH!  Immediately known as the “Swish heard round the world”  Bob “swish” Sharp is a celebrity of world renown.  One youth eyewitness said “in my old age I will tell my grandkids of the day that a stranger–an ambassador from America–showed us what can be accomplished with just a basketball.”  Bob has already turned down several international basketball offers–and said his greatest desire is to simply return home to the Bay Area and tell the world of his amazing 10 day pilgrimage in the Holy Land.  Yes, Bob will be returning home–but the Holy Land will long remember the American Ambassador of Basketball who let the ball fly–and gave us the swish heard round the world.


Photo of the school sign where Bob Sharp made his amazing shot


Tea served for John Stephenson and Fr. Eric at The American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.


Garden scene with pomegranates in the foreground at St. George’s College.


Busy street scene in East Jerusalem near the Old City.


Fr. Eric standing on the campus of St. George’s College (located in East Jerusalem) with the gothic tower of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in the background


An outdoor courtyard at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.


Women at an outdoor market in East Jerusalem.


Day 9: Free Day!

The last day in Jerusalem was a free day.  The pilgrims, now tourists,  had the day to explore, shop or just sleep.  Many of us visited the upscale Mamilla Mall.  A group of 5 traversed the city on the Ramparts Walk.  It starts in the Christian Quarter, at the Jaffa Gate and ends in the Muslim Quarter, at the Lions’ Gate.  It is a different view of the city.  You see the Dome of the Rock in the background.

 rampart walk

rampart walkers

This walk also allowed us to share where the cave that looks like a skull, from Day 8, is located.  It is being preserved in the midst of bustling East Jerusalem.

 the cave

You know you have entered the Muslim Quarter from the spires on the wall.

 muslim qtr

And how could we end without a glimpse at a rampart cat?  The cats we saw on this walk were quite happy and well fed.

    rampart cat

Day 8: Israel Museum, Eucharist, & Good Byes

On the last day of our pilgrimage, we visited the Israel Museum where there is a replica of Jerusalem in 66 CE.  The highest point, the Temple Mount, encloses the second Temple, where the Dome of the Rock now stands.  Approximately 100,000 people lived in Jerusalem at this time.  The significance of 66 CE is this was Jerusalem at its peak, just before all was lost in the Great Revolt against the Romans.  The museum also houses some of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Shrine of the Book. The scrolls were found in jars in the caves of Qumran, which we had visited on Day 6.  The Dead Sea Scrolls include the oldest copies of the books of the Old Testament, with the complete Book of Isaiah.  The white dome represents the lids that covered the jars.  The water on the dome represents purity.Jerusalem 66 CE

Mid-day we visited the Holocaust History Museum.  We started in the Valley of the Communities, with a Jewish Cantor who lead us in prayer.  The valley was built over 10 years and from the air is a map of Europe.  The significance of the Babi Yar rock is this is the place where more Jewish lives were lost in 2 days than any other time during the war.  The museum walks you through the chronological concentration of Jews by country, the ghettos and the work camps.  There are many personal accounts captured in videos.  Very powerful, very moving.  Not many photos, as inside the museum no photography is allow.

Valley of the Communities


There are two potential Golgothas in Jerusalem.  One is at Station 12 in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the other is at the Garden Tomb.  We ended our pilgrimage at the Garden Tomb.  Golgotha is the place of the skull and you can see from the picture how these caves truly look like a skull.   We finished with a Eucharist in the garden.  The homily was a reflection by each pilgrim of what will make this journey so memorable.

Golgotha Eucharist

We also captured one last cat family.  On our way out we said goodbye to our driver Eliko and our inspirational and knowledgeable guide, Jacob.  We will always remember Jacob’s rules, OK sometimes they weren’t Jacob’s rules, he was just the messenger!Eliko and JacobCats of the Garden Tomb

Day 7: David’s Tomb, Western Wall, Temple Plaza

We visited the Temple Mount Plaza to see the Dome of the Rock, the mosque that was built where the first and second Jewish temples originally stood.  Currently (since Sept 2000) visitors are able to walk the plaza but are prohibited from entering the mosque as we are not Muslim.  We captured more cats of Israel at this holy site.

Dome of the rock Cats on the Temple Plaza

We visited the Western Wall very early Sunday morning.   Men and women enter separate entrances and are separated by a divider.  We were able to observe the men and women praying, facing the wall, many touching the wall as they prayed. We got to see a bar mitzvah in process.  You can see it on the men’s side right by the divider, nearest the wall.  Later in the day we were able pray and touch the wall.  It was an powerful experience, one that touched all of us quite deeply.

western wall entrance to wall

We ended a very busy day visiting Mt. Zion.  At this site there is King David’s Tomb and the Upper Room where tradition holds that the Last Supper was held.  Men and women must enter separately to view and pray at King David’s sarcophagus.

 Last SupperDavid tomb

Day 6: Floating in the Dead Sea

Who knew that a columbarium (aka dovecote) was a place for pigeons?  In Masada there were 3 columbaria housing pigeons for messaging, food and fertilizer (what birds do best).  Masada, an amazing plateau in the desert, was the winter vacation spot for Herod.  It was then taken over by Jewish zealots who were conquered by the mighty Romans.

Columbarim idea

After our visit to Masada, some of us took a dip in the Dead sea.  It is 33% salt & minerals.  ANYONE can float!

Dead Sea Swimming