Pluralistic Perspectives Day 3: People and Impressions of Jerusalem
Today was a day to explore Jerusalem and its people. We began this beautiful day at Yemin Moshe at the Montefiore Windmill, which has recently been renovated using its original plans. Walking past the Tower of David, we paused for a moment to consider the poem “Tourists” by Yehudah Amichai. This was a profound reminder to look beyond the stone structures and seek the connections we make with one another.
We entered the old city through the Jaffa Gate and the Armenian quarter, visiting the hall of an Armenian church. Our tour guide, Kayla, pointed out a map of Armenia posted on a pillar. How can Israel reconcile teaching this episode of the Armenian genocide while juggling its relationship with Turkey?
During our time in Jerusalem, we saw young Israeli soldiers gathering to learn about our history, culture and ethics. The soldiers appeared spirited and even allowed us to take their pictures en masse. They wear a common uniform, yet represent the variety of people who populate this country.
We stopped for lunch at a sidewalk falafel stand. Did you know they put French fries in the pita? Delicious!
All the early childhood educators on the trip brought with them prayers written by the children and their parents. These small papers were tucked into the crevices of the Kotel by the members of our group. Delivery of these special notes completed the process begun in our schools. At the wall, many women in head scarves were engaged in fervent prayer. As we left the area, many young children with their families came to celebrate a milestone in their Jewish education. The children proudly carried their first siddur (prayer book) to the wall. They wore smiles and crowns that proclaimed their accomplishment.
As we continue our experience here in Eretz Yisrael, we look forward to meeting our partners in Haifa and renewing friendships. Who knows who else we might meet along the way?