Day 2 - Jerusalem..the Old City and More

Day Two - Jerusalem Despite the hail, rain, and [supposed] snow Monday evening, Tuesday started with beautiful clear skies and sun. We began our tour of the Old City outside the walls on an overlook of Jerusalem and atop the oldest settlement outside of the walled city. Walking up limestone stairs between towering fortress walls dwarfed our group of 50 as we ascended Mount Zion which King David is said to have conquered. King David’s grave lies within stone passageways and rests beneath relics of Torah and other books reclaimed after the Holocaust. Our group commemorated our time on Mount Zion with our best rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. The sun disappeared by the time we made it inside the Old City of Jerusalem. The term “old” is very much a misnomer for this area; cars exit the city gate, motorbikes pass us on the sidewalk, and tourist traps filled with junk lure in unsuspecting buyers. The four quarters [Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian] of the Old City are joined by narrow, high-walled streets -- which we succeed at blocking for passing pedestrians and carts. Our visit to the Western Wall [Kotel] was interesting and emotional not only for us as individuals but as a group. Some were surprised by the immensity of the Kotel itself, and in comparison the relativity small woman section. In general, we were able to see the power and rhythm of prayer and the fervor with which people pray at this very holy site. After our visit to the Kotel , we were luck y enough to meet with the Assistant to the Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court for a discussion of Israeli law and government. Our long day ended with a short shopping trip in the Machne Yehuda market where we savored the best dried fruit and most incredible rugalach ever [described by the Birthday Boy, Peter, as “G-d’s Big Toe”.

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