We started Friday with school work and a tour of an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. It was interesting to see everyone hurry about their business getting ready for the Sabbath. Like them, we also needed to stock up on groceries so after a great lunch (we'll be going back to Azura soon), we strolled through the local market buying supplies. The place was packed as Friday here is the equivalent of Saturday at home...except we don't have the urgency to hit he stores before they close for 24 hours.
Before sundown we made our way to the Western Wall. This holy place for Jewish prayer is open for all participate after you go through the airport style security check. Molly and I joined the women for prayer while George and Barry sat amongst the men. It's an interesting place to be as the crowds pour in after the sun has crept off the horizon. Some people seem to stay for only a few minutes while others may be there for hours. People are dressed in everything from casual clothes to ultra-orthodox robes. Men are required to cover their heads, while it's only a suggestion for women. I covered mine with my scarf (as most married women do), while Molly chose to leave her head bare. It was a pleasure to watch people who seem like regulars visit the wall, but it was also interesting to see families and groups arrive who seem to have made a pilgrimage here. It was a joy to see the look of a life-long-dream fulfilled for some people.
We made our way home through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which was a nice way to see kids in their "Sabbath best" play in the streets. I'll explain why I don't have any photos of these beautiful scenes later.
As it turns out, this may have been one of the strangest services I've been to. Not because I haven't been to a Catholic mass for a while, but because tourists flooded in and out by the bus load and walked straight through, standing between us and the altar taking pictures of the priests, the artwork, the worshippers, and even us. I felt like a "crazy Christian" on display for camera-happy who'll never possibly look at the number of photos they snapped while they made their pit-stop on Gethsemane-lane. It was so odd that at one point I waved at a woman and mouthed "no" as she zoomed her camera in on our family like we there for her enjoyment. How bizarre and disrespectful.
I hope as a camera-happy tourist myself I never show that kind of disrespect for people's daily lives. Yesterday we intentionally avoided taking photos of Jews prepared for Sabbath, especially adorable children, out of respect for them even though we saw other tourists who were not so considerate. I'll keep my new-found feeling of being an exhibit in my mind as I continue to photograph this trip. I'll always wonder what that lady is ever going to do with at picture of the Devolins in church.
We shook off the absurdity and continued with a walk through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, which is obviously poorer and more run down that the immaculate Jewish Quarter. Finally we worked our way to the Garden Tomb. This beautiful place, which may or may not be the site of Jesus' tomb, is a sanctuary in the midst of a busy neighbourhood. We joined a tour group and had an informative guide show us around. Thanks Peter for the suggestion to go there, it was lovely.
Tonight's dinner consisted of leftovers from yesterday's lunch at our new favourite restaurant! The mediterranean diet is supposed to be the healthiest in the world - I could get into that!
The kids' essays writing is finished for tonight and we're about to watch Paddington Bear. Gotta go! Love to all.