Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Goings In and Out

I think it has hit all of us like a ton of bricks that we go home in (hushed tone: less than four weeks). Four weeks, you say—but that’s still quite a bit of time! Well, you would think so—except that two weeks of that time will be spent in Galilee (we depart hence on Monday). Galilee will be amazing of course, but you see the problem: that leaves only about a week and a half of Jerusalem time. And some of that is taken over by finals. My feelings when I think of these things? Something like “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!!!!” I think that’s everybody’s internal reaction. The external reaction, as a result, is more along the lines of “Shhh—we’re not talking about that.” I guess the theory is that if we avoid talking about it long enough it might not happen. I guess we can hope, right?

Anyway—this becomes a problem because we are all trying to get out and drink in the sights and sounds of the Old City and its environs as much as possible before December. And we have to go everywhere in groups of three. Why is that a problem, you ask? Because it’s harder than it sounds to find a group of three that is 1) Not going somewhere you’ve already been, 2) Going somewhere you want to go, and 3) Coming back by the time you want to be back. It’s not always easy. Just the same, we make things work and have been going in and out a whole lot this week. This post will be me describing some of our ins and outs.
Katie and Jacqe and I went to the Israel Museum again (by taxi this time—we did walk an awfully long way the first time) on our free day to finish our assignment, which we did. Highlights included the Sennacherib Cylinder, an ancient archway from Hazor (which I am studying about for my site report), the oldest piece of biblical text ever found (two amulets of beaten gold about the sizes of postage stamps), a cloth shirt that had survived nearly two thousand years, some lovely ancient jewelry and other amazing ancient wonders. We ate our sack lunches at a café inside the museum and talked about architecture. We then took a taxi back to the center rather than walking into West Jerusalem because Jacqe was having some tendon inflammation or something that was hurting one of her feet pretty badly. Katie and I wanted to go out again, but when we got back the place had cleared out. There was almost nobody in that building. Going out was not in the cards, it would seem—and that ended up being alright because it was very cold and very wet. Instead we sat upstairs and watched the Princess Diaries and cut out paper snowflakes which now adorn the bulletin boards of our apartment. It was a good day.

Monday was the great West Jerusalem Adventure. That morning I was stressed and worried about when I was going to finish my homework, but in the end I put school on the shelf I joined a group on a mission—to make a tour not-yet-seen and/or favorite sites in West Jerusalem. The Game Plan was this: Walk through the Hassidic Jewish neighborhood, cut down to the Shuk for browsing and donut eating, then go see the Great Synagogue. And also get back to the Jerusalem Center by sundown, allowing time for any detours we may desire. We did it all, and it was awesome. It was another cold and rainy day, but I stayed toasty warm in my sweat jacket and scarf. The Hassidic neighborhood was interesting to see, though we realized partway from the “prevent people from walking through our neighborhood” signs that they might not want us there. We finished the walk, however, and zipped on over to the Shuk for heavenly deliciousness—fruit leather, dried mangoes, divinity, and donuts (most of which I sampled from other people, save the first and last). I also got a miniature Chala bread at the bakery with the donuts. Delicious. We did get to the Great Synagogue at last, but it had closed. The curator was nice to us (probably because we addressed him with “Shalom!” leading him to believe we spoke Hebrew) and let us into the front foyer for a while. We were allowed to wander about the lobby and see the displays of Mezzuzot (the doorframe Torah holders) and also to look inside a mini synagogue with a big tapestry menorah. We raced back to the center (my group staying a few minutes longer and taking the “shortcut” way) and got there by sundown. Whew!

This week we had two field trips on Tuesday and Wednesday instead of one on Monday like usual. The first was the Jewish Quarter field trip, in which we saw the Whol Museum (built over the remains of a second temple period house) the Davidson Archeological Park (with an ancient city street, many old archways, and the steps that once led to the temple and on which Jesus might have walked) and the Burnt House (another second temple house plus slightly cheesy movie—added  bonus!). Jerusalem never ceases to amaze me. 
Everywhere we go we can step off the street and into history. My favorite parts were probably the temple steps and seeing the burnt artifacts in the two houses from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. I read about all these things before I came, so I find it extremely exciting to see them in person. Another exciting moment was when we walked out of the Burnt House and right into a group of European deaf people, all signing. I stopped and happily signed with them for a while. When I put on my application that I could sign, my thought process was something like “I’m never going to use this in Jerusalem.” Ha. I love irony. I finally attached myself to a group heading back to the center so I could catch up on my homework. We did stop for felafels on the way back, though. Yummy….

Field Trip #2 was Christian Quarter. We visited many churches, including the Franciscan Terra Sancta church (where we sang St. Francis’s “All Creatures of Our God and King”), the Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox church (with many paintings and an archway to Herod’s palace that isn’t) and the Church of the Holy Seplechure. My favorite was the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Mark’s—supposedly built over the house of John Mark and his mother, including a traditional upper room site. There we met Yustina, a faithful and enthusiastic worshiper of God and also one of few native Aramaic (pronounced by her as “ara-my-ic”) speakers in the world. She told us a story about the “Holy Spirit” working upon her to speak in tongues, and recited for us the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic. Afterwards I asked her about some Arabic words on a picture on the wall. She said “You speak Arabic?” I said “a little.” She proceeded to tell me about the painting. When I said “it’s beautiful!” she laughed and said “Not as beautiful as you!” and gave me a hug. She just made me happy all over.
We all went back to the center for lunch. Our “staying in” activity that day was amazing. We made olive oil! After all that picking, it was finally time. We crushed them with the giant stone wheel, then pressed them in a couple different presses. A film team was there recording us for a new hosting video they’re coming out with. The pressing experience was more dramatic for me at Neot Kdumim, but it was still amazing at the center.

I am going to publish further in a new post. Both for your sake and because I have a great name for it. Hooray!

1 comment:

  1. The Great West Jerusalem Adventure sounds like fun! You have spent a lot of time in the city and I'm sure you won't regret a minute of it. I'm always glad to hear you say that you set your books aside to head into the city (although dad always laughs). The Burnt House sounds interesting. I think I remember seeing it. It is amazing to think that something still exists from that period in history. We also laughed at your account of meeting the European sign language tourists. What fun for you! So did they understand ASL - or is it all the same? The olive oil crushing also sounds like a great activity. Did you get to try some - with crusty bread? Love, mom