Israel Retrospective, 24Jan2014

I am in Jerusalem again for the weekend (my weekend is Friday and Saturday), and on the way back from hanging out with my friend Hannah I met an Arab guy named Eilan (Ailan? Aylan? Eylan? Something like that) who showed me a rooftop promenade with a fabulous view of the city, told me all about his life (his wife is in Ireland and he’s moving there to be with her at the end of the month. She just found out that she’s pregnant. He speaks five languages, designs supermarkets, has four undergrad degrees, and has traveled all over the world. He’s been to the US, but of all the places to go he went to… Delaware. What.) and offered me a Turkish massage, which I declined. He then told me I should move to Israel to find myself a Holy Husband, with whom I would then have a Holy Baby, who might turn out to be the Messiah. I told him the entire Orthodox community would probably have a fit if the Messiah turned out to be American and he cracked up.

I was also invited to Shabbat dinner by a random man in the street… I declined that too, which Eilan told me was probably a good idea. I was tempted for about a second, because he seemed genuinely nice, but good sense prevailed. So dull, I know, but if I’d gone with them I never would have met Eilan and gone to the rooftops, which was extremely cool, so I think it was a good choice on my part. Meeting interesting people is my favourite part of traveling, aside from seeing all the history of the places I visit. I went to the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre again today with Hannah. Just as good as last time!

My goals for tomorrow, which may be somewhat impeded due to Shabbat, are these: find a stationary store and buy a journal and a notebook! The problem with writing compulsively is that I run out of paper way too fast… My handwriting has gotten more and more cramped, and my journal entries shorter and shorter as I try to conserve paper. Not having a way to write (by hand, obviously I have my computer, but it’s not the same) makes me weirdly anxious. Must. record. everything! Also, I need a notebook so I can teach myself Hebrew. It’s hard to learn when I don’t know the alphabet/can’t write words down to help remember them…

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!

Church of the Holy Sepulchre with the smoke from a censer rising in front of Jesus’ tomb.  I don’t know what ritual they were performing, but there were a lot of priests in fancy robes (vestments?  I know less than Jon Snow about Christian priestly terminology) singing and chanting in Latin and Hebrew and swinging censers around vigorously.  It is amazing to me that even though it is a huge tourist attraction the Church is still a working church.  They just corral the tourists out of the way when it’s time to do a ritual.  

Memorial candles in a small altar room directly behind the Tomb.  There are candles everywhere in the church.  People stick them in bowls of sand, along railings, behind icons and statues… everywhere.  The only illumination inside the tomb itself comes from candles.  It’s magical.  People also leave prayers written on scraps of paper tucked into little nooks and crannies, just like at the Western Wall.  I love that two separate and often conflicting religions have the same beautiful tradition. 

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