Sunday, April 15, 2012

Kate (and Pam) on the Loose, Part 8: Jerusalem

My good friends, Kate and Pam, were in Jerusalem and Jordan before coming to Georgia. Kate started as a solo adventuress in Egypt. Now she is meeting up with Pam. From Kate's journal:

Ah sweet Jerusalem!  Jerusalem has several quarters - Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian.

The Lutheran Guesthouse was located in the Armenian section near the Jaffa Gate.

The old city within the ancient walls is made up of a labyrinth of cobblestone walk ways lined with merchants and their wares.  By the end of our four days we had figured out how to get from A to B.  The rest of the time we guessed or were lost.  But isn't aimless rambling the point of an adventure.

On our first morning we took the free tour offered by the Tourist Office.  He gave lots of history and tried to orient us, I was totally confused.  We did go to a small out of the way section of the Temple Wall and tucked a piece of paper with our prayer in a crack.

In the afternoon we went to the Dome of the Rock Mosque.  It is set on the top of a hill with a large garden and courtyard and of course the dome is covered in gold.

We of course went to the Western Wall of the Temple on Friday night and peeked through the wall separating the men from the women and watched the men sing and dance to usher in the Sabbath.  On the women's side it was lovely to see everyone dressed up with their children.  They would pray for awhile and then hurry home to prepare the Sabbath meal.  We also went to Vad Yeshem, the Holocaust Memorial. We spent four hours and it was one of the highlights.

The Church of the Sepulchre is very large and beautiful.  It is supervised by the Roman Catholics, the Greek Orthodox, the Coptic Church, and the Ethiopian Church.  While we were in the church the Roman Catholics had a procession to the Sepulchre, beautiful robes, incense, and magnificent organ music.  All the churches take turns worshiping at the Sepulchre.  The Ethiopian monks have been relegated to the roof of the church. Everywhere there is a pecking order.  I bought several crucifixes and laid them on the large stone designated as the place Jesus' body was  prepared for burial.

It was a special experience being in Jerusalem during Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.  The Saturday before Palm Sunday a procession of Roman Catholic monks led a procession through the streets.  They were led by a man carrying a large staff and striking the cobble stone very loudly.  At another time the same day, Muslim men with their prayer carpets had spilled out of a crowded Mosque and were praying in the narrow street.  So many faiths in this holy city.

A large part of the allure of Jerusalem is the energy. Everyone bustling off to pray or do some work.  It is jarring to see young people in uniform or not, carrying guns, on the other hand a group of handsome young soldiers posed with tourists for pictures.  Security was high because of Passover and Easter.  I felt very safe.

There is a large German church, Redeemer, it was founded by Kaiser Wilhelmina around 1850.  On Saturday night before Palm Sunday we went to a concert performed by 28 young women.  The church is all stone, excellent acoustics, and beautiful voices.  Then went back on Palm Sunday for an 1 1/2 services in German.  It is worship all the same.  The pastor's 3yr son got away from his mother during Communion and proceeded to cavort around the altar the entire time.

Our accommodations at the Lutheran Guesthouse were very good.  We definitely had some stars. A big German/Arabic breakfast was included.  The German part was cold cuts and cheese.  The Middle Eastern part was hummus, olives, and pita.  We also had a meal of street food that cost $30, they saw us coming. When I questioned the price he said it was FRESH lamb, must have been a prized pet.  Oh well live and learn, ask the price before ordering.  Our last night in Jerusalem we found the Armenian tavern, a cozy quaint place with great homemade soup and good price.


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