July 14th – Jerusalem, Old City, Western Wall

The day started out with a great training session in the same Matrix-esque gym. I was soaked in sweat by the end of the workout. Felt great.
After eating we headed over to Jerusalem and admired a gorgeous view. Our group on bus 18 ate challah, drank grape juice and sang Shehechiyanu. Then our tour guide started telling us about how the dome of the rock is built upon a literal rock that according to Judaism is the point on earth that god touched the world and the universe started (this may be a simplification). I was very surprised by this because I had always thought it was of significance to the Muslim faith, not ours. So I asked a very Aaron Maccabee question, aka the question nobody else would ask, which was “If the dome of the rock is part of our Jewish history, why did we let Muslims build on it?” What I basically heard as an answer is that Muslims basically fabricated the historical significance of the location. He also told me that the word, “Jerusalem” is not in the Quran at all.
I found that fascinating.
Then we headed to the old city. I love the old city. We entered through a gate that had been riddled with bullets. It just seemed so out of place to me. Bullets seem so modern and the old city of Jerusalem feels so….old.
We headed into the old city and as our tour guide took us to various parts of the wall and the old city, I felt myself losing my focus. I could sense we were either overwhelmed or bored with the information. Then once I reached the Western Wall, I put in a very personal note and felt the presence of something beyond me.
I realize now that it’s just a wall. Christianity is full of glorious churches, and in some places there are monks living in gorgeous monasteries. But the beauty of the Western Wall is that you create the connection rather than the structure creating it for you. To the average Joe, it’s a big, stone wall. It’s meaning is really up to you. You create the connection.
We got back to Kibbutz Shefayim quite early however rather than try and go to sleep early for the long day tomorrow we decided we wanted to watch “This is the End” the new movie with every funny comedian in it (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson etc). Anyway…we tried to download it and while we waited we talked. All 6 people from of our team in our hotel bedroom making South Park jokes, gay german voices and laughing uproariously. It turned out to be a crappy cam video. So instead we watched “Pineapple Express,” the greatest pot comedy of all time. Most of us had seen it, but it’s a classic. Got halfway through. Called it a night. Fell asleep fast.