Monday, October 15, 2012

The Old City

Over Sukkot vacation, I got to do some relaxing and some traveling.  Sam and I spent a day at the beach in Tel-Aviv, and another day exploring the Old City of Jerusalem.  On previous trips, I spent a lot of time in the Old City's Jewish quarter, which has a very touristy, Disneyland kind of feel (this is partly because the area is a magnet for Jewish tourists; and partly because it was razed to the ground by the Jordanians prior to 1967, and is therefore much, much newer than the rest of the Old City).  While I did spend a little bit of time in the Jewish quarter on this trip, I spent much more time in the Christian and Islamic quarters.

The main goal of the day was to visit The Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  As it turns out, the church is very easy to find, but its entrance is not.  Sam and I got a pretty good tour of the Christian quarter just searching for it.  The church itself was mobbed; apparently Sukkot ("Tabernacles" in Christian terminology) is a very popular time for Christian pilgrims to visit Jerusalem.  We didn't even bother trying to get into the innermost area, where Jesus is believed to have been buried.  What we did see was beautiful and interesting enough.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was not in a museum but in a real, live holy site of a real, major religion.  I actually have this problem even at Jewish holy sites.  I think it's a result of growing up in America, where we don't have our own religious holy sites; museums are the closest we get.

From there, we followed to Via Dolorosa backwards into the Islamic quarter.  We spent a bit less time here, but still got to wander a bit through the narrow alleyways and see all of the little shops.  From there, we finished off the day at the Kotel.


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