Friday morning welcomes the group with a brand new day in Israel. We all pull ourselves out of our nice warm beds and prepare for our next adventure. Our first stop is Rabin Square. When we get there, we sit on the grass in the middle of the square and listen to the story of what happened here. We listened to how Rabin was trying to bridge the gap between Palestinians and the Jewish people as one brave soul from our trip read Rabin's famous last speech with poise and grace. Rabin's words echo in my head as I think of how he was repaid for all of his effort in trying to create a peaceful and safe Israel.
Michal then gave us a task. We were broken up into small small groups and given some questions about Rabin's murder. We were then charged with the task of walking around Rabin's square and interviewing Israelis. My group got many different answers. Everyone had different feelings as to what his murder meant to them, or how they think it effected Israel's path to peace, but the thing that surprised me was that everyone knew where they were when it happened. It made me think that you don't have to agree with Rabin's politics or methods to understand his impact on this country. After a discussion about our interviews, we were then walked down to the site were he was actually shot. A memorial stands there now; a collection of jagged flat slate colored rocks that were supposed to symbolize Israel's uncertain path after losing such a leader. The thing that caught my eye the most was a plethora of newspaper clippings and artwork that had been put up on the wall adjacent to the memorial. In the middle of this wall was a spray painted yellow peace sign that I thought was inspirational and appropriate.
Next our eclectic family climbed on the bus for another exactly 40 minute drive (apparently everything in Israel is 40 minutes away from everything else). Our destination was Jerusalem: the old city. The first site we saw, besides the city itself, was a trifecta of holy sites. On the bottom floor, we had King David's tomb, representing the Jewish people. The next floor up was the room that the last supper was rumored to have taken place in, representing the Christians. Last, but not least, we saw the remains of an ancient Mosque topping off this sacred stacking of buildings. While there, we saw Christians, Muslims and Jews all visiting the same spot with nothing but peace in their hearts. Some spirited people in our group took pictures with them throwing peace signs in the air. Looking at this interaction made me urn for the rest of the world to follow their example.
As we made our way through the old city, we learned more about it's history, and the evolution of the city as it was overtaken by everyone from the Turkish to the British. We wandered through its rustic narrow streets until we finally broke for lunch. After we reconvened, we made our way to the Western Wall. As a secular Jew, I did not have much expectations for this portion of the trip. I thought I would walk up to the Wall, touch it, put my note in it, and that would be that. As I stood there though, a strange wave of emotion swept over me. I was standing in front of a part of Jewish history that had been standing for over 2000 years, watching people say prayers that are even older than that. I couldn't help but compare the Wall to the Jewish people, my people. It is enduring and strong, and even though it has cracks in it, those cracks are filled with the hopes, prayers, wishes, and love of its people. It reminded me of the strength of my people, and that I am proud to call myself Jewish.