Jerusalem I

Trip Start May 26, 2008
Trip End Jun 13, 2008

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Flag of Israel  ,
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Today we started with a lookout over the city of Jerusalem. Then we went into the old city and visited the Western Wall (which also known as the wailing Wall or the crying Wall, because of the emotional response of visitors/worshipers). Why is a wall so special? The only thing that is left after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, is the platform on which the temple was built. Nothing is left of the Temple itself. Why the Western Wall? Well, this side of the platform was physically the closest to the Temple when it was standing. It's tradition to write notes to G-d and slip them into the cracks in the wall. Also note that there is a separation along the Wall to divide it into two sections for men and women. In Orthodox Judaism, males and females must worship separately. When visiting the Wall, be sure to dress modestly, with shoulders and knees covered, and hats for men. After that we had some free time to do some shopping in the old city and get some falafel for lunch.

We visited Mahane Yehuda - Jerusalem's largest shuk (market). They were selling all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and spices. One of the local specialties at Israeli shuks are juice stands, where you can get fresh orange juice blended with all kinds of other juice. There was also a meat section, where we saw a guy pushing a shopping cart full of cow heads.

After dinner, we headed to the Taglit Birthright Mega Event-- which is just like it sounds like. On this night 7,000-8,000 Birthright participants all converged onto one location (a military base somewhere near Jerusalem), to celebrate the Taglit experience. In addition to groups from the US and Canada, there were Birthright groups from Brazil, Argentina, France, and India. There were fireworks and helicopters flying over and performances by Israeli pop singers and rappers. The Prime Minster, Ehud Olmert, gave a speech. There was also a kind of "fair" with various Jewish organizations giving away free stuff.
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