Friday, September 11, 2009

West Wall on Sabbath

It's interesting to see something be the focus point of so much dedication and faith. Tonight we visited the west wall after sundown, when the Jewish Sabbath starts. There seemed to be a huge party in the main common area. People were singing and dancing in huge circles, while others were running around waving the Israeli flag around. Some of our students joined in, while I decided to sit back and observe.

The inside area is divided into male and female sections, having a two-thirds to one-third ratio. Further, on the male's side there was a library area that you could walk into next to the wall. Where ever you went the place was absolutely packed.

I had the chance to put a prayer into a crack of the wall. While I was inside the library, surrounded by people on all sides, a Rabbi(at least I assume) rallied everyone to stand up and sing a hymn. When they had finished they all turned 180 and did another hymn to the other wall, then sat back down and continued their individual prayers.

On my way out two people met right in front of me. One was really excited to see the other, and asked him how his trip to America was. The other smiled and shook his head, and the first responded in an oh right you can't talk response. It made me wonder what the rules were for conduct within a certain proximity of the West Wall.

We took a different route home, using buses called for us by security. There were a couple shootings that night, two Palestinians were killed, and tensions were rising in Jerusalem. I think the Israeli forces were concerned over the higher concentration of Palestinian Organizations in the area due to Ramadan and were afraid those groups would use the moment of the shooting to start things. I could be completely wrong in all that, I'm still pretty new to the people, culture, and just how things work around here.

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