Sunday, August 27, 2006

Jerusalem Day

Rechov Ben Yehuda

I spent another day running from ministry to ministry taking care of business. This time, I brought my camera. Ben Yehuda Street is right around several places I needed to be - it's a pedestrian mall that runs up and down a hill with shops on either side - think Newbury Street just less fancy, but more charming with better and cheaper food. This area is a 20 minute walk from my home or 5 minute ride on the bus.

After finishing up with today's bureaucracy, I went to the old city. I figure it's been almost a week and I haven't gone to the main attraction. On the way over, I started realizing that there were plaques all over the city with a flame on them; I thought they were just a commemoration of a building, but after taking a closer look, each one was a site of a suicide bombing. Just as I took the picture of the plaque, a large bus drove by. It was sad moment; these plaques are all over the city.

Plaque commemorating those murdered by suicide bombers, Large bus driving by

After a moment of grief, I had to pull myself together. Life goes on around here; sitting around worrying won't solve anything. I decided to stay positive and revved myself up to take pictures of EVERYTHING at the Old City, but to my dismay, the whole Northern/Western part of the Old City limits were completely under construction!

Old City from North, Under Construction

So I joyfully walked around the construction to what I've now learned is the Damascus Gate. I quickly realized that I became the only Jew in the vicinity when I stopped seeing kippas, all the signs were only in Arabic, (as opposed to the Jewish sector, in which all signs are in English, Arabic and Hebrew.) and everyone was staring at my big Star of David necklace that I forgot I was wearing. The local population didn't seem to be too thrilled, particularly those selling Hamas bandanas and maps with the entire state of Israel as a Palestinian flag as the map. I didn't really mind, but now and then, I came to an empty road and it was pretty uncomfortable, particularly with the recent journalist kidnappings and here I am walking around with a professional camera. There have also been countless stabbings in the Old City - just today the IDF arrested a man who was walking around with a improvised spike. Needless to say, I buttoned my shirt, even though it was 90 degrees outside and put the camera away for the most part.

Quiet Arab Street, the road to East Jerusalem, Damascus Gate

Iwandered around the Arab sector for about an hour checking out their goods, and smelling their foods. Some of it was interesting, some of it I considered getting but I was getting tired and you can't haggle if you're tired. Finally I stumbled upon a nice Yeshiva student who pointed me in the direction of the Western Wall (just go straight, DUH!)

I'm not going to lie to you, I was instantly relieved when I saw a few Israeli Soldiers wielding M-16s . I just didn't know where I was in the Arab Quarter and I was lost, even though I now know that all I had to do was go straight and I would've been home free. The Soldiers checked out my bag and asked me what I was doing in Israel. They were all stunned and thrilled that I had moved here, I was just thrilled to be out of harms way.

Old City Streets

All in all the Jewish Quarter was much cleaner, and there was an air of bustling commerce. I kind of felt bad for the Arabs in the Old City because hardly any tourists were there, no Americans, no French, not even Israelis who used to frequent the Arab shops for the best prices. Now after 2 intifadas, it seems that many people are more concerned about safety and won't risk their lives for the sake of a few shekels. Either that or they are making a concious political statement.

Kotel with Ramp Under Construction

After getting a quick bite, I went down to the Kotel (Wailing Wall) which was heavily under construction - it seems they are building a staircase to the Arab sector, I wasn't exactly sure for what. The Aish building was under heavy under construction, as were a few other places. Regardless, I went down to have a chat with the All-Mighty to thank him for life, health and beg for better times for everyone. As I entered the kotel's inner section, I was stunned - the entire place had been done over so books weren't strewn all over the place as they had been in years past. There were library walls in place, a nice airconditioning system and lights all around illuminating the place. I wasn't sure I loved it, the feeling of being in an antique and ancient place was an attraction and with all this new stuff, it took away from that, but we live in modern times, I guess it had to have happened eventually.


Anonymous Richard J. Fields said...

Sir, While viewing your wonderful photos I began to weep for you and Jerusalem for some unknown reason. The photos with your comments were the most meaningful and I hope you will find time to put comments with your other photos.Thank you for the awesome photos.
Richard J. Fields

7:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home