Today we visited the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Israel Museum. The weather has been perfect, and many pilgrims are getting some good photos.
Going to the Western Wall is always a religious experience. As our bus was approaching to drop us off, we were privileged to see a family processing to the Western Wall for a bar mitzvah. They singing and chanting, playing drums, and dancing as they came closer and closer. It was fantastic to see, because we were not just going to see the stones of the Temple Wall, but we would get to witness real faith lived out in that particular place. They had so much enthusiasm, that you wanted to join them as they processed into the area.
Once you get into the area, men are separated from the women, and as is often the case, the male area is much larger than the female area. We were reminded that in Israel, Judiasm is much more conservative than it is in the United States, and that many women live according to very traditional ways. Of course, we must remember that much of Christianity is the same way. Some denominations do not ordain women as clergy, and so we have the sexism within our faith.
From the Western Wall we went to the Temple Mount. All of the women in our pilgrimage had bought beautiful scarves, and they covered their heads when we entered the mount. This greatly impressed the locals who were on the Temple Mount, and immediately we were welcomed with gracious smiles and accolades. The views from the Temple Mount are magnificent, whether it was the sparkle of the Dome of the Rock, or whether it was the views of the Mount of Olives, as well as Mount Scopus.
One of the highlights of the day was visiting the Israel Museum. They have a magnificent model of historic Jerusalem, showing the different periods of history and the city's corresponding boundaries. The model was extremely helpful for understanding the different periods of Jerusalem's history. For instance, how the city of King David was quite different than the Jerusalem that Jesus would have known.
The architecture of the museum complex is stunning - they have created a beautiful oasis for learning and reflection. It was a reminder of the modern nature of the State of Israel.
Tomorrow we are off to Bethlehem.