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Journal 6

One last glimpse of gold, and we plunged under the mountains; into the
tunnel and yet another transition in our journey. Our time at Kibbutz
Afikim was stretched before me, but my attempts to look ahead were
unsuccessful with that last image of Jerusalem engraved in my mind.

After three weeks spent in this city, an endroit which holds its own
character, unique of any other in the world, it had become a sort of home.
It was a place which had challenged me intellectually and spiritually,
had allowed for adventures and exploring, and had granted the opportunity
to experience a taste of the cultures and religions that manage to coexist
within the city walls.

Jerusalem is to me a collection of experiences and moments, which
illustrate in their own ways the essence of the place. In our first week,
snow descended one afternoon, blanketing the old city in an atmosphere of
excitement. Unbelievably, a shopkeeper hurried me out of his
hole-in-the-wall, so that he might catch sight of such a rarity. As I
scurried down a street in the Armenian quarter, towards Zion Gate, huge
flakes fell and the ringing of bells echoed from Dormition Abbey. I was
struck by the moment- the sheer joy of travel and the realization of where
I was in the world.

Another such moment found me during our week at Ecce Homo. As I explored
the snaking cobblestone streets with my camera one Saturday evening, I
found myself outside the eastern wall. As I wandered through the Muslim
Cemetery, with the temple Mount on my right, and the Mount of Olives to my
left, the call to prayer began. The mystical rise and fall of its tones
emerged from various locations within the city walls and echoed to other
mosques across the Kidron Valley.

Five minutes later as dusk fell, I found myself at the western wall.
Here, Shabbat was coming to a close and the plaza was alive with the
heartfelt singing of the Jewish men who filled the area. There was such a
brotherhood and sense of community, and complete joy in worship.

In a matter of moments I had experienced the manner in which two such
different peoples live side by side, each worshipping in their own way.
While it would be far from realistic to say that life in such an
atmosphere is always peaceable and rational, it is of some comfort to me
that there is still room in this land for such invaluable encounters.

Whether it be a Bar Mitzvah on Thursday at the wall, or the call to prayer
blasting into the bedroom windows of Ecce Homo at five am, Jerusalem will
remain a place of intrigue.

The flurry of activity below Damascus Gate, the felafel-maker who served
the EMU group daily, the woman sitting in the street, with her herbs
spread around her like folds of her skirts or the green carts piled high
with pita that always managed to run over toes; these are all moments
that will stay with me.

Just as the way the walls protecting the city change color with the
weather, so our trip continues to transition. Our days in Jerusalem may have passed for now, but that last glimpse of the Dome of the Rock- upon parting
will always prompt the revival of memories and experiences.

- Maureen Gingerich

Photo galleries:
(from most to
least recent)

Gallery 14

Gallery 13

Gallery 12

Gallery 11

Gallery 10

Gallery 9

Gallery 8

Gallery 7

Gallery 6

Gallery 5

Gallery 4

Gallery 3

Gallery 2

Gallery 1