It is amazing how much we actually see in one day, all before noon especially! Today we stayed within the general vicinity but less time traveling in the bus meant more time for more sights and sounds.
First off, this is the view from our hotel room. If you look back to my last post you’ll see the picture with the yellow rectangle on it which shows where the hotel is located. Here’s a visual now to go with that visual.
We went straight to the Temple Mount this morning with its golden-domed temple which is probably the most recognizable landmark in Jerusalem. Here are a few things we saw while up there:
Just around the corner, of course, is the Western Wall where people come to pray and traditionally place prayer requests on slips of paper in the wall. We all went to pray too. For those of us without hats on, we had to wear a kippah (yarmulke is the Yiddish word).
On Mondays and Thursdays, Bar Mitzvahs are also celebrated at this location. What a joyful experience this was, even for us!
Here’s a video I took of some of the fun:
After lunch, which consisted of more schawarma that came in such a gargantuan amount that only few could actually finish, we rode up to the Mount of Olives. Coincidentally enough given the context of that place, the weather turned cold and even rainy while up there.
Apart from all these historical sites and the chance to sing a couple more times in some acoustically pleasing spaces, probably the highlight of the day was listening to Jack Munayor – a half British, quarter Israeli, quarter Palestinian young man – tell us of the work he is doing for reconciliation of the people groups in the Conflict. The organization his father founded, Musalaha, is all about building bridges between these people groups using the life of not just Jesus, but Abraham as well. Jack is unique because while he cannot identify solely with one specific group, Israeli or Palestinian, he has knows the ins and outs of being both which enables him to approach the Conflict much more objectively and without the historical bias and passed down propaganda that permeates both sides. He pointed our group toward compassion, which I think also summarizes their mission well saying, “No matter which side you care for the most, what are you going to do about the people on the other side?” You might be pro-Israel, but in what ways are you showing goodness and kindness to Palestinians and vice versa if you’re pro-Palestine. It’s not a religious problem – the major religions already teach these things – it’s a humanitarian problem.
Tomorrow is our last day in this great city before we all fly home. There is still so much to see and reflect on as we prepare to leave this place. We hear of trouble around the world as far as Jarkata and as close as Istanbul and even Bethlehem this week; that does make us a little nervous around here, but rest assured we have been very well taken care of.