Jerusalem

We’ve been in Jerusalem for several days, and while the city is overwhelming, it’s also fascinating. As with most of Israel, literally layers up on layers of history are beneath every step you take here.

The Temple Mount is a far more massive space than I’d ever imagined. It is quite disappointing to have Muslim mosques on top of a spot that has such significance for Jews (and Christians). Such tension is apparent in much of Israel. The above photo was taken there. I think it’s kind of a bizarre picture, but I guess that’s fitting.

As is the case in most of the world, one thing tends to diffuse tension and unite cultures: playing children. I caught these kids talking and playing near the exit from the Temple Mount into the Muslim Quarter.

Perhaps the most well-known and well-loved places in Jerusalem: the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall, for the Jews who pray loudly there). Many people–Jew and Gentile alike–come here to pray, hope, and stuff written prayers into the cracks of this 2000 year old edifice. The wall is the western portion of the incredible Temple Mount built by Herod; each one of these hand-hewn stones weighs multiple tons a piece. (We were shown one that weighs as much as a fully-loaded Boeing 747….)

Not only is the Western Wall courtyard a place for prayers, it is a popular place for Bar Mitzvahs. At any given time 5 or 8 were in process. Here you see women (on the women’s side of the courtyard) watching and participating in the Bar Mitzvahs on the men’s side.

And then you have the Sukh. Throughout the Old City (the castle-walled portion of Jerusalem framed in during the Crusades) are narrow streets of narrow shops selling all kinds of goods: spices, candies, jewelry, electronics, shoes, fresh juices, etc. etc. Above: a shopkeeper opening his shop door; below, a woman purchasing candies.

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