Tag Archives: cemetery

A Glimpse of the Tomb of Moses

Driving from Jerusalem to Jericho or the Dead Sea there is a road sign with the words “Nebi Musa”, the prophet Moses. As the landscape flashes by outside your window you may be able to make out a low stone building with white domes that appears fleetingly between the hills. To explore further, take the exit and follow the curving road past a Muslim cemetery on the slope in the desert, an interesting location to photograph in black and white or color.

Nebi musa

Nebi Musa cemetery B&W

Nebi Musa cemetery 2 B&W

From this point you can look across the Jordan Valley and see Mount Nebo where according to the last chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses ascended the mountain to view the land of Israel, that he would never enter. According to Jewish tradition Moses died and was buried in an unknown valley in Moab; according to Christian tradition and some Muslim traditions, Moses was buried on the mountain. 

The Nebi Musa site off the Jerusalem-Jericho road goes back to 1269 when the Mamluk sultan Baybars built a small shrine setting a precedent for others. Over the late medieval period (between 1470 and 1480), accommodation for travelers was added next to the shrine. Gradually, the lookout point for Moses’ distant gravesite beyond the Jordan was confused with Moses’ tomb itself, laying the groundwork for the cultic importance of Nebi Musa to Muslims. Around 1820 the Ottoman Turks restored the buildings which had over the previous centuries fallen into a state of dilapidated disrepair.

The Turks promoted a festive pilgrimage to the shrine that goes back to the time of Saladin that coincides on the calendar with the Christian celebration of Easter. This ‘invention of tradition’, as such imaginative constructs are called, made the pageantry of the Nebi Musa pilgrimage a potent symbol of religious as well as political and national identity among Muslims from the outset of the modern period.

Nebi Musa 2

Nebi Musa Judean desert

Nebi Musa

Jerusalem Tombs

With a history that goes back 4000 years, you can find a lot of tombs in and around Jerusalem. I’ve already blogged about Nicanor’s tomb, tombs at Ketef Hinnom, Caiaphas tomb, Mary’s tomb – you can see all the articles by clicking on Tombs in the right hand column under Categories. Todd Bolen posted a link to a Jerusalem Post article about some significant Jerusalem tombs, King David’s tomb, a Mamluk tomb, Herod’s so-called family tomb (Herod himself chose to be buried at Herodium – one of my favorite sites to guide) and Jason’s tomb and suggested that a couple of photos would enhance the article. I’m happy to oblige and I even mapped out the sites on Google Maps to make them easier to find.

Oskar Schindler’s grave

Oskar Schindler died on September 10, 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany at the age of 66. He had requested to be buried in Israel and his Schindlerjuden survivors arranged for him to be buried in Jerusalem. You can visit his grave in the Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion. For those with GPS the coordinates are 31.770164, 35.230423

The cemetery is on the main road, Ma’ale HaShalom that goes to the Mount Zion parking lot. The cemetery has 2 levels and Schindler’s grave is on the second, lower level. There are a set of steps on the left side of the cemetery after you enter that let you descend to the lower level. The grave is right beside one of the paths, recognizable from afar because of the many stones on the gravestone. It’s a Jewish custom to put a small stone on the gravestone when you visit a person’s grave. On his grave, the Hebrew inscription reads ‘Righteous Gentile’, and the German inscription reads ‘The Unforgettable Lifesaver of 1200 Persecuted Jews’.

In 1962 a tree was planted in Schindler’s honor in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. Oskar and Emilie Schindler were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1993.

In 1999 a suitcase belonging to Schindler was discovered in the attic of the house in Hildesheim, containing over 7,000 photographs and documents, including the list of Schindler’s Jewish workers. The contents of the suitcase, including the list of the names of those he had saved and the text of his farewell speech before leaving his Jewish workers in 1945, are now at the Holocaust museum of Yad Vashem in Israel.

Before or after visiting the cemetery you may want to visit the small Holocaust museum on Mount Zion.