I wrote the first part of today’s blog in the Old City, near the plaza which overlooks the Western Wall. I browsed a Jewish book store, remarkably only purchasing one book. I could have seriously damaged my credit in the store, but I did not want to buy anything that was easily available at home. It is still quite chilly in Jerusalem, where I am sitting there is a cold breeze, making wish I had not worn shorts this morning. Last trip it was so hot here, I am quite surprised at the low temperatures.
Most of the group has gone into the Old City to finish their shopping, so I have stationed myself in a shaded walkway with a very nice latte. From here I can people-watch a bit, and of course get ahead on this blog. I am always thinking of my readers!
My goal was to spend some time in the Old City and then the city of David.
The police presence in the old city is remarkable, we saw several units of police equipped with riot gear at the gates of the Old City. I chose therefore not to try and enter the Temple Mount, which is a disappointment. Our driver Feras suggested we avoid it, and I thought it best to take his advice.
We therefore visited the Southern Wall excavations for two hours. The museum is nice, although the film lacks production value. I think it does a good job describing religious practice in the Second Temple period, and I was able to highlight a few things after the film which looking at the model of the archaeological park. For me, this is one of the most remarkable sites in the Old City since the Antiquities Authority has done such a nice job excavating and restoring the Second Temple streets and buildings. Robinson;s Arch is easy to find and there are several artist’s reconstructions around the area to help visualize the architecture of the first century. I particularly appreciate the fact they have left man of the stones pushed off the Temple Mount as they were discovered so that we can see the extent of the destruction of the city.
Feras picked us up at the Dung Gate and brought us back to the hotel. I spent some time in the lobby of the hotel catching up on my journal, and watching a large Jewish family arrive for a Bar-mitzvah celebration. Some of the kids were running around and sliding on the marble floors, like kids do. It is refreshing to know that kids are the same in every culture.