Tel Akko

Tel Akko

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We're back from our trip to Jerusalem. After a 2 hour bus ride we entered the old city at the eastern gate to the plaza and the wailing wall. The wailing wall was a retaining wall for the temple mount where the temple was. This wall was built by Herod. We were in the old city on the Jewish sabbath so there were a lot of people praying at the wall. Many of the people at the wall were Orthodox Jews. One of the suprises for me was the stones we walked on through out the city were worn down and very slick from so many people walking on them over the years. From the wailing wall we entered the Moslem quarter of old town and went to a resturant where we had falafal, humus for lunch. The resturant was at the beginning of the Via Dela Rosa where Christ was thought to have carried the cross to his cruxifixication. After lunch we walked the street past the different stations of the cross that led us to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where the cruxifixication was thought to have taken place and where one of the possible locations of Jesus' tomb was thought to be. The church houses five different Christian Orthodox denominations. These donominatios do not get along together. We saw the Armenian and Syrian side of the Church and the Coptic side where the tomb was thought to be. This was covered with a chaple that was being visited by many tourists from all over the world. From there we walked the market place and then met our bus back to Akko.
Jason and I went down to the wailing wall and it was quite a sacred experience. It boggles the mind that so many people have prayed at this wall over the years. It was a very hot day and I ran out of energy during the visit of the Church and was glad to find a place to sit and watch the people worshiping.


  1. Adding to Hal's post:

    Hal mentioned that he and Jason went down to the Western Wall. There was also a PSR contingent that went to the wall on the women's side. A local name for the wall is the Kotel. We were there on the Sabbath right before an important Jewish holiday, a day of mourning. Many women were approaching the wall. People were lining the wall and in rows of chairs and standing behind them. Many were praying, some reading prayers out of books sitting on a table for that purpose. People were crying and grieving.

    As each person got a chance to get to the wall, she stood very close to the wall, and generally placed forehead and hands against it. Some placed rolled up or folded pieces of paper with prayers on them into cracks in the wall. As people finished their wall ritual, they backed away from the wall and all the way back out of the courtyard and up the ramp. They did not turn their backs to the wall.

    There were women and girls of all ages. I especially loved seeing the little girls completely included in the ritual.

    My personal experience was very moving. First I spent time observing and praying. I even picked up one of the books and looked at it, even though they were all in Hebrew and I couldn't even tell if they were Torahs or prayer books. I wrote a prayer for world peace, especially peace between the children of Abraham, then when I felt ready I took a turn at the wall. I placed my head and hands on the wall and prayed out loud as I heard others doing; my prayer was the only one I heard in English. When I felt complete, I stuck my written prayer in the wall and backed away and out.

    My experience was profound. I cannot adequately explain it, but a professor in our lecture today talked about pilgrimage as a way to construct identity as part of a community. I believe that that explains part of what I was experiencing. I felt viscerally connected to my ancestors throughout time and space.

  2. I saw a bit of 'graffiti' once on the wall outside a Youth Room at a local church (it was at Sierra Christian School where Kim taught at the time): "When Jesus was on the Cross, we were on His mind ..."

    That struck me as very profound as well, and I thought of the statement literally, since Jesus transcends time and space ...

    It must be AMAZING to be there and walk where it all happened. Surely and truly a sacred ground.