We'll see how far we get tonight. It's after 8:00 in the evening; we boarded the bus in Bethlehem at 8:00 this morning. The iPhone says we took about 10,000 steps, walked over five miles and climbed 20 flights of stairs. As we were returning to the hotel from a fabulous light show at the City of David, people in our group were saying things like "It's way after my bedtime," and "I'm ready for bed." It's been a long day.
"Do you have your passports?" "We may need our passports today." These were a couple of the teacher's comments this morning. We arrived at the Dung Gate to enter the old city of Jerusalem about 8:30 and stood in line for 30-40 minutes to get through security. They didn't ask for passports but our bags were scanned and we walked through metal detectors. We climbed an covered ramp to get to the courtyard of the location of the former Jewish temple. Currently there is a mosque built there.
As we entered, one of the "dress code police" said that one young male in shorts and one young female in shorts needed to cover their knees. Gail had already given a scarf to the young lady which she fashioned into a nice skirt but it was not long enough. They were taken aside - we didn't know to where - and returned after a elongated five minutes each with a wrap-around skirt they had to buy. The father of the young lady was giving her a side-by-side supportive hug when another "appropriate behavior police" approached them and said "I know she's your daughter but you can't touch her here." Our teacher explained what we were seeing and after a couple stops a "time keeper police" came by and said five minutes, five minutes before we have to leave the courtyard. The teacher continued talking hoping to give us as much information as possible in the five minutes. Soon another "time keeper police" came by and pointed to his watch. We talked as we walked toward the exit and didn't have to be removed by force.
We strolled through some back streets and re-entered the old city at the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. As we stood in the courtyard looking at the wall we read that the men enter to the left and women to the right. Curiously enough curious women after they entered their portion of the Wailing Wall peered over the wall that divides them from us. A good writer could write an entire chapter or even a novel about the sights and behaviors that one saw. Oh, if everyone could have the fervor for prayer as some of these gentlemen at the wall had. Wow. Including loud wailing.
As I entered the area by the Wailing Wall I was asked where I came from. "Oregon." "Are you a Jew?" "No." "Welcome." I'm not certain what that was all about but then I noticed that several of our group were wearing the little Jewish hat, a Kipa. I also noted that I was wearing a hat and others wearing hats also were not wearing a Kipa. Maybe he was helping me get things right, or maybe I looked like a Jew.
The West Wall is named so because when the wall that enclosed the Temple Mound where the temple stood was destructed, and then later rebuilt, the lower part of this wall is a part of the original wall on the west side.
As we were leaving the Wailing Wall we heard music and came across a group involved in some Jewish ceremony with drums, a clarinet, a saxophone, a trombone and a couple dozen family members/friends dancing in a circle. As this concluded the family members/friends continued inside and the musicians headed out in the opposite. We wondered "Were these musicians for hire?"
We learned more from our teacher as we viewed the continuation of the West Wall on the outside. There was a 3-D movie, more stories, more information, more photographs and many more stairs up and down. We received an exclusive talk from a modern-day Jew. He closed his shop and gave us his full attention. Another excellent representation of another view of religion and the world from Jew.
Then it was uphill and more uphill to an Armenian Tavern for lunch - we actually were given a menu and were allowed to order individually - and some spirited conversation about American politics. By now we are all skilled geologists, archealogists, historians, theologians, politicians and statespersons. We have not mastered either the Hebrew or Arabic languages, yet.
Finally, well finally, before dinner, we climbed down into Hezichiah's (sp) Tunnel which is an underground water tunnel for the city of David. Two of our group chose to walk the tunnel; the rest of us chose the dry but still very narrow upper tunnel. The bulk of us walked to the mouth of the wet tunnel through a Muslin neighborhood with some care. The end of the tunnel is the Pool of Shiloam where Jesus restored the sight of a blind man by placing mud on his eyes and telling him to clean it off in the Pool of Shiloam.
After checking into the hotel and an early supper we attended an awesome light show in the City of David which was projected on the walls of the city ruins. Another wow. The show depicted the history of Jerusalem from beginning to today. The reviews from the group were very positive. Very impressive.
For pictures for this day go to Dave's blog at dallastlc.org