Saturday, June 10, 2006

Going up to Jerusalem

Greetings from Jerusalem! I am playing tourist for a few days visiting friend in the holy city. The first landmark my friends insisted on taking me to was the famous...Jerusalem Mall. When we entered the mall one friend jokingly said, oh this is holy ground, we must pray. We then went and paid hommage to "aroma" Israel's answer to Starbuck.

I have been to J'salem 5 times but there are still many thing I haven't seen, so later I went with my friend Oren to the old city. I wanted to go on the stations of the cross pilgrimage led by the francisans each Friday. Somehow we missed the beginning of the tour but still manage to walk the via Dolorssa, visit the Garden of Gessamane, the burial place of Mary & walk near the valley of Jehosphat & Mount of Olives, which was lovely. We made a brief stop at the western wall where I had some time to pray and then manage to catch the last 5 stations of the cross pilgrimage at the end at the Church of the Holy Sepulucre.

One thing I hadn't noticed before is the religious furvour of many of the pilgrims who come to visit the city. This especially noticable at the church where people would kneel, carees & kiss the place where Christ's body was supposedly laid when it was taken off the cross. Some would even lay necklace, cangles or other momentos on the stone slab thinking they might be made holy or absorb some blessing from. "Isn't this like paganism?", commented my secular Jewish friend. I thought, you're right, its kind of idolatorus to focus on anicon or image and treat it as an object ofo worship rather than seeing it as symbol pointing to God.

The rest of the weekend included visits to the Shrine of the Book & Israel Museum, dinner out at the Arab village of Abu Gosh, watching the latest X-men movie at the cinema'teque. Stay tuned for pictures...


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