I can think of a million reasons why everyone must travel to Jerusalem at least once in their lifetime. It is the only place, I’ve visited, where I felt my existence align with the truth of what was and what is. The first wave of consciousness was so precise I could pinpoint the moment when it occurred – inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as I stood next to the presumed tomb of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. It had dawned on me that Mary Magdalene (a woman whose life has intrigued me all my life) may have taken the exact steps I had just taken and stood where I now stood. The second wave rushed over me as I poised myself on a flat roof overlooking the Temple Mount. Its walls running from Mount Moriah, the very place where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, to Mount Zion. The ridge of Mount of Olives glimmered to the left of me and the Garden of Gethsemane was behind me. A mellow, euphoric Islamic call to prayer drifted over the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives containing over 300,000 tombs. The sun burned into my skin and I squinted my eyes to stop myself from weeping under the immense burden of undeniable realisation. It’s impossible to visit Jerusalem and not be profoundly moved by it. It is simply impossible.
On my visit I was fortunate enough to have the service of a guide, Shelly Eshkoli, who incidentally happened to be a scholar. Her subject of speciality? Biblical women. Life is all about being at the right place, at the right time but more importantly with the right people. On our walk across the court of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Shelly informed me that the Byzantine period was a time when women were not respected. The intention amongst scholars and society alike was to elevate the status of men. Hence the role of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus was trivialised and her character fired upon and called to question. In 2016 Pope Francis elevated the status of St. Mary Magdalene signing a decree formalising her as an Apostle of the Apostles.
The Stone the Builders Rejected has Become the Cornerstone
It would be foolhardy to ignore the interconnectedness of the narrative of Biblical times to what IS in Jerusalem. The city is an active dig with only 10% of it having been excavated so far. So we watch in awe as the history of mankind unfolds. In the same way that St. Mary Magdalene acquired due justice today there is hope that we too may be exalted 2000 years from now.
For the time being however, we must first show gratitude for what is before us. The City of David has found a way to ennoble the stone that is rejected and it is being offered to the rest of the world. Israel’s most prominent artists have come together to create a collection of jewellery inspired by the archeological artefacts unearthed in Jerusalem. Each item tells the story of one of the most sacred places on earth. What is significant is that the glass used in the pieces are Roman glass taken from fragments of vessels and kitchen ware unearthed from excavation sites that would otherwise be discarded. The pieces are ablaze with deep colour from prolonged contact with minerals underground. Whilst they appear ethereal remarkably, it is the single thing that they are not.
Rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets have been designed inspired from finds such as a single gold earring set with pearls and precious stones discovered in the Tyropoeon Valley excavation. It is believed to have belonged to a woman of prominent stature due to its quality and use of precious metal and stones. Another is a silver amulet upon which The Priestly Blessing from the Bible (Numbers, Chapter 6) was inscribed. It is the earliest archaeological evidence of verses from the Bible. It was found in a burial cave rolled together with another tablet at Ketef Hinnom and has been dated 7th century BCE. The list of inspiration continues in the same vain with each more captivating than the other.
It is a phenomenal collection of immense significance and one that can in no way be trivialised as mere jewellery. Every piece evokes the feeling of an offering from the past. Each has a sense of a calling to belong and to connect. I for one am humbled that I was deemed worthy to bear this message to you.
A proportion of the profits from sales is returned to the City of David to fund continuing excavations.
- In collaboration with Jerusalem Development Authority. For more information visit: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/
- WIZZ Air flies to Tel Aviv from London Luton on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with fares starting from £102.99pp one way. For further information visit www.wizzair.com.
- Yehuda Hotel – Double room prices start from £112pp with breakfast included. For more information visit: http://www.byh.co.il/?lang=2