Mount of Olives Fun things to do




Gila's Tips for Tours

Mount of Olives | FUN things to do

If you are up on the Mount of Olives on the day of the Great Reckoning, you may witness Jesus' second coming (Christian belief), and/or the rising of 70,000 dead from their graves, all fully dressed (Jewish tradition).  What an awesome spectacle!

View of the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View of the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount

But if that great day of God Almighty according to the prophet Zechariah in which the Mount of Olives will split, with half moving towards the north and half moving south is delayed, then there are still a number of fun things to experience.  You can:
  • Sing as you walk down Palm Sunday road
According to Matthew 21, when Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Passover, he was greeted by multitudes waving palm braches on the Mount of Olives and shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David."  They were demonstrating their excitement that redemption was imminent.  (Hosanna is Aramaic for "deliver us".)

When you walk down the Mount of Olives facing the old city of Jerusalem, sing "This is the Day that the Lord has made" from Psalm 118, just as pilgrims did two thousand years ago!


Traditional Palm Sunday Road on the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Traditional "Palm Sunday Road" leads down to the Garden of Gethsemane


  • Locate an ancient olive tree
Actually, you won't find any, until you reach the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  That's because the Romans cut down all the olives trees within the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, according to the first century AD historian Josephus Flavius.  There are, however, seven ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.  You'll note that if olive trees are properly pruned, they can bear fruit for over two thousand years.  If you come at the end of October, early November, you will see the trees dripping with olives!

Ancient olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Olive tree in late October in the Garden of Gethsemane

  • Recite the Lord's Prayer in as many languages as you know
In the Pater Noster church, recite the Lord's prayer in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin or Swedish. There are over 100 different choices which include Fijian, Polish and Chinese.  It's believed that Jesus hid with his disciples opposite the Temple on the Mount of Olives and taught the Lord's Prayer to his disciples in a cave over which the church was built.  When I'm visiting the church with a group, I recite the Pater Noster in Hebrew and Aramaic, two languages Jesus spoke.

The Lord's Prayer in over 100 languages and dialects

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Pater Noster church displays the Lord's Prayer in 163 languages & dialects

  • Mount a camel – but hang on tight!
Mark Twain says that a camel would not turn out for a king.  But Shushi, who hangs out with his owner by the panoramic view on the Mount of Olives, is more humble.  Shushi stands up with his back legs first so you are initially rocked forward.  Then, as he rises from his front knees, you are rocked backwards.  Hang on tight!  Actually, neither Shushi nor any camels you will see in the holy land are camels.  They all have one hump, that is, they are really dromedaries.  Get your camera ready for some hilarious photos!

Mounting a camel on the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Mounting a camel on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

  • Visit the grave of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, reviver of the Hebrew language
In 1881, when Eliezer Ben Yehuda landed in Jaffa, he startled his wife by announcing his intention of reviving the dead language of Hebrew.  Her response was not recorded, but it may have been, "duh, I don't speak Hebrew," or possibly, "hey, now I won't understand his criticisms of my cooking!"  Eliezer Ben Yehuda took on a life-long project of inventing a new "modern" vocabulary based upon biblical Hebrew.  As you stand by the tomb, show Ben Yehuda that his project did indeed succeed by saying a few Hebrew words such as "shalom Eliezer" or "Ma shalom-ha?"  (How are you doing?)  See 10 handy Hebrew phrases to learn more….

Tomb of Eleazar Ben Yehuda, reviver of the Hebrew language

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Tomb of Eleazar Ben Yehuda (middle), reviver of the Hebrew language

  • Put a stone on an old tombstone
It's a mark of respect and a sign that the grave has been visited.  Placing a stone on a grave is an old folk tradition whose origins are uncertain.  Perhaps because the soil on the Mount of Olives is so rocky, burials were very close to the surface and covered with rocks and stones.  By the time the relatives would return to commemorate the anniversary of the death, the grave may have been disturbed by flash-floods or animals.  Therefore family members would bring stones to rebury their beloved.  There are little openings in the tombstones for memorial (yahrzeit) candles which burn for 24 hours.
  • See if the blocked-up Eastern Gate is opening – just a crack
The Eastern Gate, also known as the Golden Gate was blocked up by Muazzam Issa, Saladin's nephew (or son-in-law, depending on which genealogy you look at) in the early 13th century.  In Jesus' day it was opening and Christian tradition has it that Jesus made a triumphant entry in the Temple courtyard through this gate.  Ezekiel, in chapter 44, prophesized that the eastern gate would be shut, but the prince of peace would enter through that gate.  So, if the gate is opening, it must mean that the day of the great reckoning is here!

Blocked up Eastern Gate, also called the Golden Gate

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Blocked up Eastern Gate (under the arches), also called the Golden Gate


Tour the Temple Mount in the company of Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and the disciples, the angel Gabriel and Mohammed.  Meet many other luminaries, both real and legendary.

Gila's Temple Mount tour is now also available as a written 24-page PDF with a Temple Mount plan, guidelines for passing the security check and ten recommended reads on the Temple Mount from Gila's bookshelves.

  • Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
From time immemorial, or at least three thousand years, pilgrims, as they come to the holy city, have been reciting psalm 122.  The psalm describes Jerusalem as a city compact together where the tribes of Israel ascend to the house of the Lord.  You also can pray for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem.

 Shalom for Jerusalem

shalom in Hebrew


Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives


Copyright 2011 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


Coming to Jerusalem soon?  Does the hustle and bustle of the market give you a high, yet you would like some quiet moments in the holy sites?  Are you eager to eat humus and knafe elbow-to-elbow with the "natives," or is dining in the style of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba more to your taste?

Gila's Guide will lift up your spirit as you "Explore Jerusalem's Soul."  This up-to-date PDF (Adobe Acrobat) 46-page guide gives you the Top Ten places to meditate on the Bible, the Top Ten lesser-known churches worth visiting, the Top Ten most rewarding roof-top views and the Top Ten places for yummy Middle Eastern soul food.  More on Gila's Guide...

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