Final Day in Jerusalem

19Jun10

Please note: All pictures taken of the Western Wall were captured on Sunday, not on Shabbat.

To welcome Shabbat, last night (Friday) the group bussed to the holiest place in Israel – the Western Wall. The land around this area is the reason why there’s been a struggle between Jews and Muslims for the past hundreds of years. The holiest place in the world for Muslims exists a mere ten feet behind the holiest place in the world for Jews.

To explain The Western Wall, check out this excerpt: “in the midst of the Old City in Jerusalem is the section of the Western supporting wall of the Temple Mount which has remained intact since the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple (70 C.E.). It became the most sacred spot in the Jewish religion and of the Israeli state.” Link here: http://mosaic.lk.net/g-wall.html

Basically the Jews built a very holy temple a few thousand years ago, some a-holes knocked most of it down, this is what remains.

Western Wall

“Funny” Moment – No one is allowed to snap pics in front of the wall on Shabbas (the action of snapping a picture is not allowed, not necessarily the picture itself.) Some non-religious Jew dude was by the Wall with his kids and a foot-long lens on his camera. He wasn’t taking pics, but the camera was readily available via shoulder strap. A hassid (very religious Jew) walks up to him all garb’d up and threatens to spraypaint the lens if a picture is taken. Non-religious Jew dude gets embarassed and walks away with his kids.

Insert Note Here:

It took about an hour to walk back to the hotel from the Wall. Upon our return and over the course of about 5 hours, we polished several holy bottels of vodka while playing Kings (a drinking game, see rules here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=kings%20cup). Needless to say, several people wound up removing articles of clothing.

Next day…

Despite the many things to do in Jerusalem, Shabbat doesn’t allow for much. Streets are desolate – few people, few cars, no public transportation. In Jerusalem, the most religious city in Israel, people stay in their homes to enjoy their weekend which begins Friday afternoon and continues through Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the workweek in Israel.

Luckily (insert sarcastic snicker here) the bird sanctuary in Jerusalem WAS open, so this is where we were taken. I’ll spare you the exciting (insert sarcastic eyeroll here) details, but basically an MD heads the place… they trap birds in nets, tag them with bracelets, log info, and set them free. The MD tracks migratory patterns, health, and other bird mumbo jumbo. Most entertaining part – after watching the MD measure the birds’ vitals, he let the girls of the group (how sexist) set them back into the wild. The looks on girls faces were priceless, and it was even better when the birds made bird doodies on the girls’ hands.

The Bird Man

Breaking News: my roommate in Jerusalem just walked into the room w/his girlfriend. Please commence silence and/or nudity.

Back to the birds – the MD showed a movie after the bird “release party,” which I ditched to hang out with Shani. She didn’t seem too interested in the birdman, so we looked at pics from the trip on my camera.

I’m getting tired so the rest of the day thus far will be summed up in the following:

An older British dude spoke on the political relationship among Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Hamas, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran. He predicted Iran to be THE superpower of the middle east in a few years if they receive nuclear powers. But even without nuclear power, Iran controls 7% of world trade and approximately 35% of the world’s natural oil reserves.

We also played a trivia game (split East coasters vs. West coasters) hosted by the soldiers on facts about Israel. Takeaway point – Leopards (yes, the big cat) do exist in Israeli deserts. I’d like to write a whole other entry on the way Israeli military views their soldiers as compared to the US military – but not right now.

Tonight we go into town, eat, shop, drink, and smoke hookah! It’s the soldiers’ final night with us…

Shalom.

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