Friday, November 5, 2010

A day in Jerusalem

Last Thursday I joined Dan's colleagues for their tour of Jerusalem.  We left Tel Aviv about 8:30am, and drove the hour in reverse traffic, luckily, as the inbound traffic to Tel Aviv was at a stand still. We arrived in Jerusalem via some off-highway roads that were used to get the women and children out of Jerusalem during the occupation before the 1967 reunification.  Our guide, Yuval, was one of the babies taken out of the city, because his family had already made Jerusalem their home nearly 40 years earlier, having immigrated to Israel from Poland before WWI.   

We also drove a steep, winding old street that was the original road into the city before modern roads were built.  Jerusalem sits on top of a series of hills.  We started with a view of the old city from an adjacent hill.  The valley between is a large Jewish cemetary, however along the wall to the old city there are Muslim graves, put there in an attempt to keep the Jews out, as Orthodox Jews are not allowed to pass through this type of cemetary.  It had something to do with being "unclean." 

Inside the old city is the Temple Mount, a holy site for Muslims, the Western "Wailing" Wall, a holy site for Jews, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a holy site for Christians.  The old city is made of layer upon layer of construction, so the archaelogical digs that you can tour are fascinating.  They go back to Herod's temple, built over 2,000 years ago.  This was at a cultural turning point from polytheism to monotheism.  If you're interested, there's a lot more on Wikipedia.  It is fascinating to see the solutions that Israel has come up with since the last bombing of the city in the late 1960's in order to allow those living there to rebuild, while creating access for the archaologists to uncover the history below. 

Unfortunately, at street level it has become in many ways like every other tourist destination on earth - vendors hauking clutter, looking for suckers.

It was nice to come back here, having spent a day in 2006, and this time not worry about "seeing, doing, and buying" like I'd never be back.  I'm looking forward to exploring more of the country so that I can provide  an insiders guide when you come to visit us.  

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