We traveled to Bethlehem some weeks ago (definitely just typed 'years'. It feels like it was years ago) to visit the grotto where Christ was supposedly born and also to visit Bethlehem university and hear from some of the Palestinian students there. Though Bethlehem is six miles south of Jerusalem it might as well be worlds away because of the Separation Barrier. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, and in 2006 the Israeli government built this wall to stop the Second Intifada and to prevent future terrorist attacks against the state of Israel. And while the wall accomplishes this goal it also prevents the Palestinians from accessing jobs, schools, universities, hospitals and family. Most importantly, it's a daily reminder that Palestinians are a people in bondage.
When we passed through the wall returning to Bethlehem a piece of graffiti on the Palestinian side stuck out to me. It was of a lion, the symbol of Judah, bloodied and violently spewing out "Welcome to Israel". Directly underneath was written the word "hypocrisy". On the Israeli side was a nice Board of Tourism advertisement with the same "Welcome to Israel" but this time accompanied by scenic views of Israel. At that moment I did feel terribly like a hypocrite. It's a feeling I hope I'll never forget.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
A very likely spot along the Jordan River where Christ was baptized.
That $12 entrance fee to the la-la-lame gladiator show (honey, all I needed was the Russel Crowe's version and I'm a happy girl) was all worth it for this chariot ride. I felt like I was riding the line between life and death and IT WAS AWESOME. Alas, all I got was this picture as I held on for dear life.
Monday, November 7, 2011
One of the best things about being here Fall term is the abundance of fall Jewish holidays. Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles is a harvest holiday as well as a holiday meant to commemorate the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness as directed in the Leviticus chapter 23. Traditionally, the Israelites would build little huts to eat and sleep in during the week-long holiday. The rules are that the hut has to have at least two and a half walls, the roof has to be composed of organic material usually palm fronds and you have to be able to see at least three stars through the roof. I asked why the two and a half walls and occasionally-offensive-friend Tyler says it is because the Jews have a made-up religion with arbitrary rules. I told him to hush. Walking around the Jewish Quarter of the Old City is extra fun because during Sukkot because everyone puts up their little sukkahs.
The not-so-little sukkah at the Western Wall.
Home-made sukkah decorated with pomegranates! Pomegranates have a lot of symbolism to the Jews because of their numerous references in the Bible. They are said to contain 613 seeds after the number of commandments and are also representative of King David's reign, the priestly ephod and fruitfulness.
Hello, Western Wall! In the morning during Bar Mitzvah's:
In the extra-early morning on the last day of Sukkot:
Ultra-Orthodox Jews praying and davoning:
"Everyday I'm shukling, shukling..."
On the first 6 days of Sukkot the Jews take their etrog (lemon-like fruit) in one hand and their lulav (bouquet of a palm branch, two willow branches, and three myrtle branches) and wave them about to indicate that God is everywhere, rejoicing in the Lord. On the last day of Sukkot at sunrise the Jews take their lulav and beat it against the ground while praying. the leaves fall off the willow branches symbolizing the rainfall they pray for.
Isn't Judaism fun?
P.S. This was ages ago but who says I have to post things in order, or on time?