Day two in Jerusalem found us dropped off near Temple Mount. Amir, our tour guide, lectured for approximately an hour about the origins of Islam and how Jerusalem became a center for Muslims in addition to the Christian and Jewish religions. We were able to walk around the temples and view their architecture, designs of which are without people or animals to prevent the worship of idols. Muslim architectural designs utilize mostly mosaic tile in repetitive patterns on temples that are round in shape to symbolize a God without a beginning or end.
After leaving Temple Mount, we walked through narrow side streets that were decorated with oriental merchandise by Arab vendors. There were rows of colorful candies and sweet pastries, golden trinkets, tapestries sporting Middle Eastern patterns; rugs that looked like they may be magic carpets from the time of Aladdin.
Upon reaching the plaza next to the Wailing Wall, we seated ourselves on a staircase as Amir told us about his experience as a youngster and visiting the Western Wall for the first time. After his mother passed away when he was eight, he begged his father to let him go to live on a Kibbutz, which was a cooperative Jewish community . During the Six Day War, he talked of time he and the other children spent in a bunker until they woke up one morning and saw tears of joy in the eyes of the women who took care of them. The war was over and Israel had gained the territory that included the Wailing Wall. As Amir and his father, along with scores of other Jewish people, looked for the Wall, there was a feeling of euphoria at being able to visit the most Holy place for Jews. It was at this point that I realized as an outsider, the importance that these religious locations mean to the Christians, Jews, and Muslims that live here. These places are part of their personal identity and while I will never feel the reverence that they do in regarding them, I do acknowledge the value they have to these people. There is a difference between reading about conflict based on religious values and being on location, knowing personally the people who are involved, and seeing the dilemma these people are faced with each day.
Next we toured the ancient City of David and spent a bit of time looking at the archaeological sites there. Some of us ate ice cream because we were warm, while others were cold from the dampness and chose to have tea. The alleged temperature was 66 degrees. I was questioning the wind chill because it felt much colder.
The last part of the afternoon was spent at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum. Yad Vashem is Hebrew and means literally 'a hand and a name'. These people would then have their names memorialized forever.
We finished the day at approximately 10pm, after nearly two hours of discussion and then dropped into bed from exhaustion. So far, we are not disappointed and the trip couldn't be better.