Email from Israel #4
Jerusalem Travel Blog› entry 12 of 13 › view all entries
I hope i am spelling this correctly, but i think most in this distribution list won't notice. :-)
So i arrived in Jerusalem OK...the bus from Eilat drove north across the Negev which looked SO MUCH like the deserts of Arizona and California.
Then we drove along the western shore of the Dead Sea, past the sites of Masada and Qumran...then westward across Palestinian areas where you could see a number of Bedouin 'villages.' All the sites of the drive already overwhelmed me, then we could start to see the eastern parts of the capital...the most true 'City on the Hill' that exists in the world.
Jerusalem is growing on me, only because I have to figure out what to think and feel...it is like a logjam of emotions and impressions. The city is SO clean, and remarkably peaceful. Even if you walk through the narrow alleys lined in every direction by sooks (market stalls) selling everything, it is peaceful.
I did walk from Jaffa Gate right through the edge of the Muslim quarter...to the Kotel (Western Wall). Here I was overwhelmed...I washed my hands, put on my kippah and approached the wall to lean against it and give prayers.
How do I feel now? Quiet. In thoughts. And now chatting it up with shop owners from the Jewish quarter where I had a pick-up espresso and did some shopping to the Arab and Armenian quarters...where shopkeepers are super friendly. I was a little apprehensive at first to realise that I am in Israel but in Muslim enclaves, but there is no apparent danger. Now I am much more relaxed about it...in fact, this internet cafe i am in is in Muslim area...best price in Israel too, I think. Oh, it's right by the 8th station of the cross on the via dolorosa.
I just wanted to write a little to say that the Jerusalem experience is something that I have not yet faced here...it is humbling and uplifting, and yet sorrowful. How to explain it?
I mean, I believe that the Beit Ha-Mikdash (Temple) should be and will be restored on the original site, but now there is a nearly ancient mosque there. What sense does this make, how can it all be resolved?
As I saw members of Tz'hal (Israeli army) guarding areas in the Old City I was so tempted to thank them for the Paratroopers' liberating of the Old City in 1967...but these soldiers are so young. Also after doing the volunteer period with the Tzahal, I feel bonded to them. They returned that sentiment to me as well.
So tonight, after here I will head to this Middle Eastern (obviously) restaurant near Jaffa Gate that was recommended to me by a "Messianic Believer" lady that lives in a small home on the upper patio where my hostel room is. But there is also a Lebanese place just below me and the cooking smell is just amazing.
Tomorrow I plan to meet at Jaffa Gate and take a walking tour of the Old City...and then Tuesday I plan to venture out to other places...shop Ben Yehuda Street, go to museums. Or I may mix/match as I go...one thing that many of us from the program realised was that here you should not make pre-set plans entirely...just go with the flow. Things work out and the most amazing surprises await you.
I wish I had the flexibility to stay longer here.
Hope you're all well...sorry for the general "to all" kind of emails. I am trying to write to as many people as possible when I am paying for internet usage time, and also I do spend some time to write personally to people who write me. If I forgot to answer anyone, please forgive me.