After we got out of the Western Wall Tunnels, which were amazing as we walked underground along the entire length of the western retaining wall of the Temple mount, we came out into the Arab shuk. Our guide, Mike Hollander, reminded us that in going through the shuk, remember, if you make eye contact with one of the store owners and you look at an item, you are as good as owning that item. 🙂 The shuk is amazing in the color and amount of things for sale – from fabrics to figurines to carpets to chatch-kees. We finally ended up back at where we started, the Kotel plaza.
We took another few minutes for people to visit the Kotel one more time and then it was to the stairs to head to the Jewish Quarter. From the top of the first staircase we had an amazing view of the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. (pictures to be posted later). Then it was into the Jewish quarter Hurva square. Here is where ancient meets modern. On one side of the square is the Broad Wall, dating back to the 8th century BCE, First Temple period. Inside the square itself is the rebuilt Hurva synagogue that some might remember as just an arch remaining after it was destroyed in 1948.
We took about an hour for some shopping in the Cardo. I’ve been reminding everyone that, if you see something you like, buy it then, because if you don’t you may not be back and you will be disappointed that you didn’t get it. So, we did some shopping including some talitot for our adult B’nei Mitzvah students – yes, try explaining that one to the shop keepers. “Adult B’nei Mitzvah? What is this?” Give them an explanation with, “oh yes, and this is my rabbi!” – pointing to me. 🙂
From the Old City to Machanei Yehudah, the outdoor market. One of our favorite places to shop for food while we were living here this summer! The fruits and vegetables are as fresh and beautiful as ever and the crowds were immense as everyone was running around getting last minutes supplies for Shabbat. Of course we filled Marzipan, the infamous ruggelah store,with our group and filled our bags. Some found a nice indoor restaurant in the chaos while others of us immersed ourself in it. Matt and I found Eli, a great shop keeper who the kids and we loved to go and see whenever we were there. Some of our nut people moved, but the cheese and wine store was right where we remembered. One hour later and hands full of bags of goodies, we were back on the bus returning to the hotel.
We came back, sat down for about an hour and then it was off to services and dinner in Modi’in, Kehilat Yozma. Following a wonderful service, the group was sent off with families for a home hospitality dinner. Everyone returned so excited about meeting some amazing families and individuals. There were those who just made aliyah two years ago to those who have been here their whole life but never realized until recently that they could be a part of a synagogue community without being da’ti – ultra religious. Truly the goal of meeting with the people of Israel along with seeing the places is on its way toward fulfillment. And still there is much to come.
After a very busy day, we came back to the hotel, some of us decompressed in the lobby talking for a while and others straight to their rooms, but we all slept very well, ready for a full day of Shabbat in Jerusalem.