Because of our sins we were exiled from our country and banished from our land. We cannot go up as pilgrims to worship Thee, to perform our duties in Thy chosen house, the great and Holy Temple which was called by Thy name, on account of the hand that was let loose on Thy sanctuary. May it be Thy will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, merciful King, in Thy abundant love again to have mercy on us and on Thy sanctuary; rebuild it speedily and magnify its glory. (The Jewish Prayer Book)
We visited Jerusalem for the last time at the end of our stay in Israel. This visit was even more special as Eileen was able to leave prayer notes in the cracks of the Western Wall written by the students in her grandkids classes.
During this visit we were also able to go into the Temple Mount, which, while under Israeli supervision, is closed most of the day for non-muslims.
I think what I personally like best about Jerusalem, and most particularly in the old city, is that so many very different cultures live and work together here. Here is a last look for this year at three of the ‘quarters’ in the Old City and the people who spend their time there.
The People of Jerusalem…
What can you say? These images tell it all.
Rabbi with his 50D
Muslims-The Temple Mount…
To the right of the Western Wall a well-guarded pathway leads to the Temple Mount, one of the most historic and religious sites in the world. In the Islamic world, this is the Haram es Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, and one of its crowning architectural achievements. Tourists could only visit the Temple Mount/Haram es Sharif from Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 to 11am and from 1:30 to 2:30pm. Non-muslim visitors are not allowed to enter the mosques or the Muslim museum.
A short history of the Temple Mount…
After David conquered Jerusalem (about 3,000 years ago), he purchased the flat rock at the top of Moriah. The Temple Mount you see here in our photos is an artificially created, flat, stone-paved platform built by Herod to accommodate vast numbers of pilgrims in ancient times. Herod’s temple complex was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. All structures on the Temple Mount today, including the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, are Islamic holy places and religious institutions built after the Muslim conquest of A.D. 638.
Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest place of prayer in the world for Muslims after Mecca and Medina, is the first large edifice we saw when we entered the Temple Mount. It is among the oldest mosques in existence and also among the most beautiful — a vast broad basilica originally nine naves wide (it was rebuilt somewhat smaller after the Crusades). It was in front of the graceful porticos of the Al Aqsa that King Abdullah I of Jordan was assassinated in 1951, by gunmen who felt he was attempting to create a basis for eventual peace in the area. He died here in the presence of his then 15-year-old grandson, the late King Hussein of Jordan. At this time the mosque remains closed to visitors.
The Dome of the Rock…
The exterior walls of the dazzling Dome of the Rock are covered with a facade of Persian blue tiles, originally installed by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-16th century. In 1994, under the auspices of Jordan’s king Hussein, the great dome was completely reconstructed and regilded with 80 kilograms (176 lb.) of 24-karat gold. The Dome of the Rock is reached by climbing the broad ceremonial stairs that lead to a decorative archway and a raised center portion of the Temple Mount complex. The Dome of the Rock’s interior is every bit as lavish and intricate as the outside. Plush carpets line the floor, and stained-glass windows line the upper ceiling. Again, visitors must remove their shoes and leave them, along with their cameras and bags, on shelves before entering the shrine.
Jews-The Jewish Quarter & The Western Wall…
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the at the foot of the western side of theTemple Mount. It is the remains of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard, and is one of the most sacred sites in Judaism outside of the Temple Mount itself. Just over half the wall, including its 17 courses located below street level, dates from the end of the Second Temple period, having been constructed around 19 BC by Herod the Great. The remaining layers were added from the 7th century onwards. The Western Wall refers not only to the exposed section facing a large plaza in the Jewish Quarter, but also to the sections concealed behind structures running along the whole length of the Temple Mount.
It has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries, and since we were there on a day when the Torah is read we were able to see many bar/bat mitzvahs being held.
Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall
Women observing a Bar Mitzvah from womans section
Christians-The Church of the Holy Sepulchre…
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Church of the Resurrection to Eastern Orthodox Christians, is a church in the Old City of Jerusalem that is the holiest Christian site in the world. It stands on a site that is believed to encompass both Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb (sepulchre) where he was buried. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been an important pilgrimage destination since the 4th century.
This is our last blog from Israel. I had a wonderful time photographing the sites of this small wonderful country. I look back to our return next December when we will also have the honor of attending and sharing in the bat-mitzvah’s of Eileen’s granddaughters Idan and Noam.
We also want to thank all of you who have read and followed our journey and for your kind and supportive words.
Next Year in Jerusalem! – !לשנה הבאה בירושלים