Pieces of the Holy Land

I am not particularly skilled with photography or videography. I have photos which are blurry, ones where my finger was on the lens, and ones with such poor composition that I can’t even remember where they were taken. I love singing, but I don’t yet have the skills to write music. And yet, I wanted to create, to make something tangible and lasting by which to remember this trip. Which is why I decided to make an anklet composed of many different charms from the many different parts of Israel.


The Charms

From Left to Right
  • Always– This simple silver charm is a pledge to always remember the Holocaust. It is representative of our trip to the Yad Vashem, the stories we heard, the tragedies. I had been to Holocaust memorials before, heard from the families of survivors, but the weight I felt in my heart after this visit, being in the only land the Jews have where they can feel safe, was not something I have ever felt before. This charm is a reminder of that burden.
  • Jerusalem Cross– A memento from our time in the city of Jerusalem itself, our walk down the Via Dolorosa, prayers at the Western Wall, standing on the Temple Mount– I could go on. We saw so much in Jerusalem.
  • Stone from the Valley of Elah– As the site where David defeated Goliath with a sling and a stone, I simply had to include a rock from this valley. It serves as a reminder of how God fights our battles, and when He does, even giants will go down with the smallest of stones. God can, will, and does use the weak to humble the strong.
  • Shell from the Sea of Galilee– I picked this shell up from the shore of the sea of Galilee as a sat in stillness with God, watching the sun rise over the water. It occurred to me that Jesus probably did something similar when he got time alone with His Father. After all, he conducted most of his recorded ministry in the region around the Galilee.
  • Olive Tree from the Garden of Gethsemane- It was a profound relief for me when I learned that we would have substantial time to reflect and pray in the Garden. It was a much-needed time to slow down and consider how Jesus responded to overwhelming anxiety, pain, and betrayal. In this garden, some of my own emotional chains shattered as I realized afresh just how intimately Jesus understands the struggles we encounter in our lives.
  • Volcanic Rock from the Golan Heights– I wasn’t particularly looking forward to hearing about the conflict with Syria, to be perfectly honest. Yet, when I heard about Operation Good Neighbor, the children and the mothers helped by volunteers and IDF soldiers involved, I knew I couldn’t forget this part of the trip. I carved a bit of volcanic rock into a heart to memorialize how those soldiers loved their enemies.
  • Cross in the Star of David– This is a symbol of the Shabbat dinner we had with a host family in Jerusalem and a reminder that the Jews are the olive tree onto which I am grafted. I felt that I had so many questions, so much to learn from our hosts and not even close to enough time.
  • The Holy Family– On the back of this charm is written Nazareth, which is, predictably, where this charm was found. It holds in remembrance the childhood and humility of Jesus, as well as those closest to him who could not, would not, believe him to be the Son of God.

The Process

While most of the charms were purchased, some of them required some extra work. The stone from the Valley of Elah, as you might have guessed, did not start in a perfect rectangular shape, nor did the volcanic rock just happen to be in the shape of a heart. Using a dremel tool, I cut and carved them into their final shapes. The same tool assisted me in drilling holes into those charms and the shell, as well as polishing the metal charms to a higher shine.

Once the charms were made, I had to crimp on the clasps and string the beads. All the beads were purchased in Israel, with the wooden ones being made of olive wood from Bethlehem.

Link to a time lapse video of the process

The set up for the stringing process.


The Result