Friday, January 23, 2009

The Old City of Jerusalem

This is a continuation of our tour last Saturday. We finally got to go to the Old City. This section of the city holds some of the most sacred places of the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) - it is the site of the Temple Mount, where Solomon built the Temple, and then the 2nd Temple was built (the remains of which is the Wailing Wall - the most sacred site in Judaism) - it is the site of Jesus' last supper and crucifixion, memorialized by the Stations of the Cross, ending in the Church of the Holy Sepulchral (we were not allowed to go that day for security reasons, but hopefully I'll get back soon), and it is the site where Muslims believe that Mohammed ascended to Heaven, memorialized by the Dome of the Rock, which is believed to cover the footprint from where he sprung into the sky. Our guide described it as a volcano with a cork in it - when there is conflict, the catalyst is here - over these holy places, over these rocks.

It is also a place where the definition of tolerance can been witnessed. On a Friday, you can sit next to an intersection of the streets of the Old City, and watch thousands of Orthodox Jews passing to pray at the Wailing Wall before Shabbat dinner, thousands of Muslims passing to pray at the Mosque near the Dome of the Rock, and hundreds of Fransiscan Monks and their followers retracing the footsteps of Jesus as he was led to crusifixion. And this passes, each Friday, almost always without conflict. Maybe some dirty looks, yes - but there is tolerance, if nothing else... at least usually.

Here is a picture of the gates through which we enetered the Old City. There is a Wall made out of stone around the entire Old City - all made out of the limestone that ALL buildings (at least most) are built out of in Jerusalem. The Walls were erected by the Turks about 400 years ago.

The walls have scars from the many conflicts that have taken place over what they protect. These bullet holes are from the 1948 war. The Jews call it the War of Independence, because that is when Israel won its statehood. The Arab Muslims call it the Disaster... because that is when Israel won its statehood.
Here is a closeup of the walking entrance, inscribed by the Turks
Once I got inside, the first order of business was... eating. And so I had my daily Swarma - which I have decided that I will never get sick of. Behold:
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1 comment:

Rotarian Editors and Publishers said...

Congratulations on your successful completion of your Rotary Ambassadorial year!

Do let our Rotarian in Jerusalem know how you and your colleagues are doing...we care!!!

Mark Zober
Jerusalem Rotary Club District 2490