When my brother Brian first moved to Israel, I must admit I wondered if he was making the right move.

“I mean, Bri, isn’t it dangerous there?”

As it turns out, Israel is pretty much like everywhere else. You stay away from the risky areas and otherwise just go about living your life. The same is true for my hometown, San Francisco, which arguably is more dangerous than Brian’s adopted city, Jerusalem.

Although the Jerusalem’s big Wow Place is the Old City (site of the Wailing Wall, the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher), I find the Southern Wall Excavation outside the Old City to be even more evocative. Here you can see the southern retaining wall of the Temple Mount, built during King Herod’s time, more than 2,000 years ago. Just consider that statement – here you are, walking on stone steps where Jesus most certainly walked…where pilgrims would climb the steep steps to the temple to make sacrifices to their god. It’s a humbling place, a place where you climb down into the ruins of houses built upon the ruins of older houses, a place where a few steps might send you from the Byzantine era to the age of the ancient Jews.

My favorite site is this:

a little stone porch that was a bit of a mystery before the excavation. As the archeologists dug further, however, they discovered that the porch was actually the apex of a grand staircase!