Monday, 1 December 2008

jerusalem (3) - holy ground

Just to prove I'm here!

Well I finally made it past the police and soldiers and spent much of the morning and early afternoon at two of the most important religious sites in the world. On Saturday I visited The Western Wall but was not allowed to take pictures as it was the Sabbath, today there seemed to be cameras everywhere. There was a great deal of activity mid morning as groups of Jews from around the world came to recite the scriptures, pray at the wall, process copies of sacred texts and young boys had their bar mitzvah.
Men dancing at the wall. The women watch from behind the barrier.

I’ve posted a selection of photos to give a feel of the place. One thing did strike me as I watched what was going on. The women were segregated from the men in the areas nearest the wall. They had to stand on chairs and look over a partition to watch what the men were doing, including watching their sons going through very important ceremonies. The women also prayed at a different part of the wall separated from the men by the barrier. It echoed the layout of the second temple with its courts for men, women and Gentiles and I found myself thinking of this verse from Galatians 3:28: There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus.
Carrying the sacred scrolls

The Western Wall is the remnant of the Temple Mount retaining walls. Jews pray there as an expression of their confidence that God will rebuild the Temple and that The Divine Presence never leaves the wall.

Praying at the Wall

I’d visited the wall after again failing to gain entry to the Temple Mount but in the afternoon I succeeded as for an hour non Moslems were allowed in. The walkway up into the mount is to the side of the Western Wall through the Moor’s Gate. After the densely packed streets and alley ways of the rest of the old city it was a contrast to enter an area that was both very quiet and spacious. The weather was fantastic, warm with a clear blue sky and ideal for viewing the Dome of the Rock mosque, with its golden dome and bright intricate patterned walls. It looks smaller than I imagined up close but is still very impressive in its setting. After an hour a policeman told me I had to leave and followed me to one of the gates to make sure I went.

Finally made it!

This evening the course began with Evening Prayer in the Cathedral followed by a reception, introductions to the staff and a very enjoyable meal. My room mate arrives later this evening, hope he doesn't snore. The schedule looks very packed and includes four days in the Galilee region - I feel fairly chilled out and ready to go.

The Western Wall & Temple Mount. The Women's area is to the right of the umbrellas. The walkway to the Moor's Gate is to the far right.

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Psalm 87:1


1 comment:

gaschwarz said...

Great pictures, Phil! Thanks for sharing them.