Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jerusalem


About an hour outside Tel Aviv, lies Jerusalem. And just a scary border control and enormous wall away from Jerusalem is Bethlehem.

Jerusalem is considered the "holy city" to three religions:  Judaism, Christianity & Islam.  Given that I'm Christian, being in Jerusalem is like walking back in time through the stories of Jesus in the Old Testament. Most significantly, you can walk the 12 stations of the cross, starting with the street where he walked carrying the cross, over to where he was nailed, then buried and resurrected.

It’s not surprising that there were huge church groups, walking the stations, reading from the Bible, chanting and praying. I was on a more factual tour, rather than religious one, but it was still a very moving experience.

Marking the 5th station of the cross

The steps mark the hill that Jesus climbed just before his crucifixion. There's now a church built on top of the hill so this is the view from the outside of the church. 

Crucifixion point from the inside

Marble where Jesus resurrected, also inside the Church

But Jerusalem is a city of sad paradox. On one hand, it’s one of the most important religious cities, and on the other, it’s a land of war and dissent. Jerusalem has found a way to allow the many religions coexist through what appears to be a compromise over territory. There’s a wall dividing the Jewish and the Muslim quarter. And only Muslims can cross through parts of the wall onto the other side where the mosque exists. My boss is Muslim and he wanted to visit the mosque. To prove he really was Muslim, he had to recite a part of the Koran in Arabic to the heavily-armed guard manning the doorway. The rest of us waited on the other side of the wall.


You can see the mosque behind the doorway. I wasn't allowed through.

These weren’t the only guards we saw. There were 18-year olds with heavy machinery all over the city. Something surprising about seeing machine guns in a city that boasts it’s the birthplace of religion.


We concluded our tour at the Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. Our guide explained that the mosque is really the most important building in Jerusalem because it is built on the “Temple Mount” where God gathered the dust used to create the first man.  But for the Jews & Christians who aren’t allowed in the mosque, the wall outside is the closest they can get.  Over time, the wall has become a symbol of holiness for Jews. Today, the wall is used to receive wishes and prayers from people who write them down on tiny pieces of paper and stick them into small cracks in the wall. Apparently, you can also email your prayers!

Wailing wall with the mosque in the background

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info, it was really helpful. I'll surely visit back again later.
    Pacific Dreams

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  2. The Wailing Wall is actually part of the original Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Romans

    ReplyDelete

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