Well, I just had a pretty unique experience. We went to the Western Wall for the beginning of the Sabbath (Friday night). The Western Wall is all Jews have left of their temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Wall wasn’t actually part of the temple, it was just a retaining wall of the temple complex. Now the Dome of the Rock (you know, that building with the gold dome), a Muslim holy site, sits on the same spot that the temple did. So the Western Wall is as close as Jews can get to having a temple, and it’s very special to them.
We couldn’t take pictures since that's forbidden on Shabbat (yeah, I’m going to use that awesome Hebrew word that I know). But here’s one I found that looks just like what we experienced.
It was pretty crowded. It’s not usually that crowded during the rest of the week. I will definitely go back sometime and take some of my own pictures. The coolest part was that everyone was so happy to be there! There are separate areas for men and women, and the men’s side especially was a party. Everyone was singing and dancing.
Here's a picture from a normal day, so it's not as much as a party or as crowded. You can see the separate sides. Notice that girls can stand on chairs to check out the men's side.
The tradition is to write down a prayer and stick it in a crack in the Wall. See below. Yep, this is the first picture that came up when I did a search for this haha.
I didn’t do that yet, but I did get to touch the wall!
Everyone dresses up to go there on the Sabbath. Some of the ultra-Orthodox guys wear robes with huge fur hats. It’s a cultural experience to say the least.
Another tradition to never turn your back on the Wall, so most people walk backwards away from it.
Anyways, being there was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done in my travels. It's hard to convey the atmosphere there in words.
Yesterday we walked around in West Jerusalem, the Jewish side of town. They have a long row of these globes. Photo op!
We just walked around and looked at some shops there. I still haven’t done any shopping yet. I’m scoping everything out first! So many souvenir opportunities.
So they really pile on the homework here. Some of the classes are really interesting, some are the most boring things I’ve ever sat through. But either way I’m not really in a homework state of mind. Maybe because I actually graduated way back in December. I’d kind of rather like go see Jerusalem or something....