By Bruce Bushwick
Shortly after our plane landed in Ben Gurion airport, our guide explained that we are in a uniquely Jewish space— in language (modern Hebrew), with food (kosher restaurants are everywhere), in official holidays, and in religion. I would also add that in Israel, we are in Jewish time, with the week separated into the weekdays and Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).
Today is Shabbat, the holiest day of the week, and we are in Jerusalem, the holiest city for Jews. We spent most of our time in the Old City, the religious epicenter for both Jews and Christians.
This is my fourth visit to Israel but it is my first journey with colleagues from the JCC. Like our JCC, many of my fellow travelers are not Jewish. So, I am seeing Israel anew in through the lens of friends who are here for the first time and who bring with them their personal religious and life experiences. Our day started with an enlightening “VIP” tour of the Armenian Quarter, arranged by George. It was wonderful to share with him, his pride in his personal connections to the old city, his heritage, and his origins.
We then visited sites holy to Christians, going back in time to the events that defines Christianity, and we ended our planned day with prayers at the Kotel. Kotel is the Hebrew name for the remnants of the Western wall of the our second Temple. It is the holiest site in Judaism. Praying at the Kotel, with the convergence of both time and space was especially moving.
Thousands of people converged on the Old City today. Most come from around the world in pilgrimages to holy sites. A smaller number live in the city. The diversity of people visiting and living in Jerusalem is a people watcher’s nirvana. It brings to focus that G-d must delight in the diversity of creation, and I do too.
Shivuah tov—have a wonderful week.