One thing that Israel does well is monuments and museums.  There are lots of opportunities for propaganda (note to CR students: we’ll be discussing propaganda and it’s not necessarily a negative thing).  Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial is one such example as is the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum.  The images I’ve chosen will illustrate this for you.

Why Can’t We All Get Along?

My friend Terri took a tour of the Old City so I have included some images that she took along with a couple from the internet (the church interior). Since I have been to Israel many times and to the Old City more times than I can count, I opted to meet up with some of my relatives for lunch while Terri took the tour.   Many more Christians visit Israel than Jews or Muslims so it looks like the focus of her tour was for the visitors that are Christian.  What we realized on Shabbat on the way to the Western Wall, is that they skipped over the Jewish quarter so was glad I got to show her that a little bit.   One thing Terri noticed is within the small space of the Old City Armenian Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Christians live in close proximity in relative harmony.  Maybe it’s the sacredness of this place that fosters cooperation. I was happy to hear and to see that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been renovated as the last time I was there, it was pretty moldy and dusty and the various Christian factions were arguing about control.

New and old Jerusalem

On our second day, we experienced both the old city and the new city of Jerusalem. When I say “we” I mean my friend Terri who is with me on this trip. This is her first time in Israel so she took a tour of the old city and I spent some time with my daughter doing some shopping in the Mea Shearim neighborhood. I’ll be sharing some of Terri’s photos with you in the next blog post but for how a little about the new city and Mea Shearim in particular. New city is relative since the “modern” city of Jerusalem probably began to grow at the end of the 19th century and once Israel was granted independence in 1948 it grew even more as Israel was deprived of access to the old city. After 1967 Israel captured the old city from Jordan and then of course additional territory that has made life complicated for all ever since.

Jerusalem is a modern Westernized city that still retains its early 20th century flavor and even earlier. This is one of those places where every step you take you are walking next to or stepping over history.  There are always surprises. Almost all the buildings are built from a certain kind of stone called Jerusalem stone that glows pink at sunset. It’s pretty magical. The neighborhood you’ll see in the photos houses families that have lived there for centuries often in very small spaces with lots of children. Can you imagine living in a two bedroom apartment with 10-12 children?  Somehow they manage.

Arrival of the new year in Jerusalem

I spent the first day of 2014 in Jerusalem and it was just like any other work day here.  Since the Jewish new years celebration is in September or October this day is no different from an ordinary day.  After a very long trip (leaving Monday and not arriving until early today/Wednesday) we are very far from California.  I’m making this trip with my very good friend Terri and this is her first time so it’s interesting to see things through her eyes and I am here to visit with my daughter and son-in-law who make their home here.

Our only major excursion today was to the Machane Yehuda market an indoor and outdoor market in the heart of Jerusalem.  One thing one notices pretty quickly is that here unlike in the US the only fruits and vegetables one sees are what is in season and it’s all quite appetizing.  Another thing one notices is that we are in the Middle East so spices abound, looking and smelling glorious.  We are recovering from our journey and expect tomorrow to be our first jam-packed day.