Lives in the balance


scott sitner-jerusalem 2018

gate to arab side of Jerusulem

It may seem like I skipped a day, let’s just say the travel day to here was uneventful.  Yes “making”chocolate at 9 am was a joy, the kids liked it, and visiting a kibbutz was actually interesting, it was an old style one where it was a a true co op, everyone works for the community, really was fascinating and apparently a dying breed.  We also stopped at a strip mall for lunch, ate at a pretty decent sushi place, and then drive the last few hours to jerusalem.  Really the definition of a travel day.  Captivating I am sure.We are in Jerusalem  for five days, so we get to settle in.  driving in you see the gates hat separate the jewish areas where we will spend most of our time, and the arab and christian areas, separated by 500 plus year old stone gates.  These are open and there is access with no issue but it reminds you of where you are and the balancing act between the communities.   The day today was supposed to me miserable and turned out to be nice.  It really was the sort of your you take. One elderly man on the trip, late seventies, talked about how if he had a bucket list as a Jew how could this not be on it?  And he was and is right.  This is the center of the jewish religion history and culture. The city has existed in one form or another for thousands of years, going back to peaceful co existence in roman times to the turbulent years recently.  

part of jerusulem

my father resting

What I did not expect was how pretty the scenery was  the hills, and valleys are spectacular..  I think people have a pre conception that is belied by the realities of this very hilly city. We did a walking tour of the areas around the western wall, seeing excavation sites, water systems 1800 years old and of course then the western wall.  What this reminded of and made us think about was our history and culture. So may people just think that as jews we don’t eat pork or shrimp(love em both), strictly observe shabbat and have to follow strict rules to be a Jew  We don’t and it becomes offensive sometimes.  

found under a parking lot was a few thousand years of history

outside western wall

a rainy day at the wall, imposing

Being jewish is as much about religion as it is about history and culture.  Our people have fought and survived for centuries and while the religion is important of course, it is the culture and who we are as a community that is more important.  The wall exists for prayer, and people pray there.  They also reflect and think, you can do both.  In fact the truly orthodox don’t even consider many others jewish  We will survive.The wall itself is just that, a very very old wall.   A barrier separates women from men which is still off putting but reminds you the orthodox history.  

Thirty minutes was plenty to feel the importance of the wall in our history and to understand why it s important.  Even for reform jews, we still feel a spiritual connection to our history and our past.  People place notes in the wall with prayers for whatever or whoever they feel they need to pray for.  There is a feeling of connection whether you believe as the orthodox or not.We also saw dig sites uncovering homes from 2 thousand years ago.This was a parking lot and when they went to do some construction and found that there were multiple levels of ruins, going back past the ottomans to the ancient romans.   They simply keep finding more and more ruins, this is going on ten years of digging.  

women’s side of the wall, the tunnel above goes to temple mount

Most of it simply is housing, but there is also evidence of the lost City of King David, which would be major finds.   It is again the history of the City that fascinates, knowing that thousands of years have passed and countless generations of people have made this home.

just amusing

This is a funny picture of a cat and a rooster, it has no significance of any kind.Lastly for the afternoon, we went to a huge market and given that this was just a few hours from Shabbat, when the city essentially shuts down, it was a mob scene, thousands of people buying what they needed and thousands of tourists doing the same.  It was crazy, claustrophobic and fun.  I lasted twenty minutes.We also had a shabbat service tonight at hebrew university.  It was a service that was short and more pointed then most because of where we were. It was just our temple group, casual and quick but it was interesting to see how people were more moved than at home simply because of where we were.  It was nice.

busy market on Shabbat afternoon)pre shabbat-crazy)

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