Jerusalem probably doesn’t make the top of most people’s lists for favorite cities, but it’s one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever visited (and revisited and revisited). The city surprises me with something new each time I’m in the city.

On my most recept trip to Jerusalem I made a point to see things I’d perviously skipped. Here’s a sample of what’s featured in the video

Western Wall

The Western Wall is one of Judaism’s most holy sites and honestly an incredible sight to see. Especially if you visit during Sabbath. Fun Fact: Sarah Silverman’s rabbi sister was recently arrested at the Western Wall for wearing a prayer shawl (read the news story on Ynet).

Women aren’t afforded the same rights at this segregated holy site. If you’re not familiar with the politics of the Western Wall, I recommend reading about Women of the Wall—a liberal group of Jewish women from around the world who strive to achieve the right, as women, to wear prayer shawls, pray and read from the Torah.

Muslala Art & Hummus tour

One of the things I did on this trip that I’d previously skipped was visiting the Musrara, or No Man’s Land, district. In the past year, the community has developed a free walking tour every Friday Saturday morning. It was an incredible tour that spanned history. The Jerusalem neighborhood is located just outside the walls of the Old City and is the border between East & West Jerusalem. The neighborhood has long been inhabited by a diverse group of people, and today, initiated by community leader Matan Israeli, the Muslala Arts Collective is working to turn Musrara into an outdoor art gallery with the hope of encouraging dialogue between all the community members.

Here’s the information about the free tour. Highly recommended!

Abraham Hostel

I stayed at the Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem which was definitely one of the most fun hostels I’ve visited in Israel. On previous visits in Jerusalem I stayed in some of the backpacker hostels in the Old City. The two experiences couldn’t be more different. In the Old City, where things start to get quiet in the evening, at Abraham’s, the opposite was true. Nearby Kikar Zion (Zion Square), the hostel is within walking distance to most of Jerusalem’s restaurants, nightlife and bars

At the hostel, I also attended their weekly Shabbat dinner which was how I met most of the people I ended up hanging out with during my 5 nights. The hostel isn’t the cheapest in Jerusalem (view their website), but I would definitely choose to stay there again rather than in the Old City.

Museums in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is an ancient city, so you’d be right to expect a lot of museums. Here’s a brief sample of some of the ones I recommend:

  • Israel Museum — where the Dead Sea Scrolls are located, but actually the museum itself has quite the collection of contemporary art
  • Yad Vashem — Holocaust memorial & museum, an important place to visit
  • Museum of Underground Prisoners — in the city’s old Central Prison, this is the place to go to learn more about Israel’s complex history with the British
  • Museum on the Seam — in Musrara, this socio-political contemporary art museum promotes coexistence through art
  • Jerusalem Artists House — featuring artworks by Israeli artists, the collective often promotes young & rising artists
  • Ticho House — a small museum with a collection of menorahs and 20th century paintings by the home’s namesake

The sights & sounds of Jerusalem

Obviously this is just a small preview of the many things to do and places to see in Jerusalem. Stay tuned for more recommendations! In the meantime, have you been to Jerusalem or is it on your travel wish list? What’d you think of my video (sorry about the shakiness!)?

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