I can’t believe I am in Jerusalem, the holiest city on earth! For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading a lot to orient myself but it would take years to understand the very complex history of Jerusalem. Just consider a very few of the things that happened (or allegedly happened, you decide) in Jerusalem’s Old City, which you can walk across in fifteen minutes:
- Jesus was tried, convicted, crucified and rose from the dead
- God created the universe
- Mohammed ascended to heaven
- Abraham almost sacrificed his son Isaac
- King David was buried
- Solomon placed the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple
Yesterday, I started my stay with a beginner’s walking tour, thinking it is probably the only way to get oriented in a short time. The tour guide was very knowledgeable but skipped over some key milestones. If you only consider the facts no one disputes, it is hard to justify how the Israeli government has treated the Palestinian community here. But I will stop there….
Today, I went to the Armenian Quarter, which has been here for about 1600 years. Currently, it is a tiny community of about 1500, mostly men and women getting religious training in the convent and the seminary. I stopped by one of the few Armenian shops and talked to my new friend Haroud about what to see. He quizzed me on my knowledge of Armenian and I recited the only six words I know — and he told me that “Hosso” is not an Armenian word (Dawn, Kathy, Laura help me out here!) Then I went to Armenian church services, which always begin with the sound of banging on wood because in a past era, the Muslims would not allow the Armenians to announce their religious enthusiasm with bells. I lit a candle for my lost Armenian family and thought about how my dad would have loved Jerusalem.
Then I went to the big public market which was jam packed with people buying stuff for Shabbat dinner.
I think I am going to have to change some of my travel strategies because I am having a hard time connecting with fellow travelers and I am starting to get a little lonely. I met one woman from New Zealand who is traveling around the world and we had fun talking about Thailand and natural dying processes. But then she decided we were over billed for lunch and ran into the souk with what she thought we shouldn’t have to pay, yelling “I’ll give you back your share, come on!” Any *mature* woman who takes off on her own for months at a time is going to be a little weird — I just need to find someone who is my kind of weird.
The sun is going down and I can hear the shofur and the call to prayer. What an amazing City.