Our Last Day and 29+ Hours to Return
Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
10Trip End Apr 11, 2013
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Where I stayed
Right next to the Wailing Wall is the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. We left the Jewish Quarter, passing through security again. Then we had to get in line to wait to go to the Mosques. We waited for about an hour. While we waited, Matt took a piece of white cardboard and made himself a Roman collar like a priest wears. He kept it on for a long time. Paulette started talking to the two girls in front of us who are from New York and who are working in an NGO to help the Palestinians. As we were going through Muslim security for the mosques, Phung went to take a couple of pictures and got separated from us. She had an encounter with the security guards because she didn't understand what they were telling her to do. Since she wasn’t with us they asked for her passport which she had left in her other bag. She did have other ID with her and they let her through. We were disappointed that we couldn’t go into the Al Aksa Mosque. When we tried we were told, "Not allowed." Only Muslims were allowed to go in. We walked from the Al Aksa Mosque to the Dome of the Rock with its golden dome. It wasn’t so golden as it was cloudy. We engaged a guide for about 15 minutes and he told us about the Dome of the Rock and the surrounding gates. We left through a gate into the Old City and soon found ourselves on the Via Dolorosa. I took a couple of more pictures I couldn’t get at night including the restaurant where we ate Monday evening
We had a few minutes until Rabbis for Peace came to talk with us in the kitchen of the hostel. Arik Ascherman was the rabbi who came to speak to us. He was born in Cleveland and grew up in Erie, PA. He told us how rabbis from every sect of Judaism work together to promote humanitarian treatment of the Palestinians. Paulette told us about calling him to Hebron in the middle of the night when she was there. He drove all they way to Hebron to help. Arik spoke about the prophets and the Torah and the many times the Hebrew Scriptures talks about how “resident aliens” are to be treated. He was not saying the Palestinians are aliens but that scripture does teach us how to treat the Palestinians, Arik impressed me as someone who loves his faith and his country but who also sees the flaws in both. One of the things Rabbis for Peace does is go out to the olive groves during the harvest and help the Palestinians so that they are not harassed and have their crops ruined by the settlers. They do many things to bring to light the injustice of the way their government treats the Palestinians.
When Arik left we had a few minutes until we needed to leave again. Larry wasn’t feeling well, so he stayed back and had a rest
We rode back to Nablus Street and it seemed our driver was in a hurry. It was a rough and bouncy ride. When we got back some people went to Church of the Holy Sepulchre which contains Calvary and the Tomb were Jesus was laid. They also visited an Ethiopian Church and then came to collect the rest of us for supper. We walked out the Damascus Gate again and up Nablus Street to the Jerusalem Hotel. When we walked in there weren’t enough tables, so they put us in the room where they serve breakfast to the Hotel guests. As we walked through and down the stairs, the smoke from several hookas assaulted us. You can pay to smoke the hooka in the restaurant but we couldn’t in the breakfast room. It was smoky enough down there too. We had this downstairs room to ourselves. Larry came along as he was feeling better but now Matt is all stuffed up and not feeling well. Josie also was feeling really tired. We ordered variously: lentil soup, broccoli gratin, trout, salmon, arrabiata pasta, and a hamburger with fries. We also got a bottle of Chilean Cabernet to share. We had a pretty good time but when Matt, Ted, and Rich ordered ice cream for dessert, most of the rest of us headed back to the hotel to pack etc. On the way back Paulette bought some bread for breakfast.
We got up this morning before 6:00 and caught the Nesher (bus) to the airport at the Jerusalem Hotel
I am writing the rest of this shortly before noon on Friday morning. The plane finally arrived from Albany, or as Alice told us it is pronounced, AW-bany, at about 12:15. We were on board and sitting on the tarmac by 12:41 officially, but we didn’t actually take off until 1:15. We touched down in Columbus at 2:30 but didn’t get to the gate until 2:41 and then we had to wait awhile for them to open the plane. By the time we got to baggage claim, our luggage was sitting there waiting for us. We said our goodbyes and went to wait for the red bus and green bus to take us to our cars. Paulette, Phung, Matt and Josie stayed the night at Phung’s niece’s house in Columbus. Larry drove home as he had actually slept a little while waiting for the plane in Newark and a little on the plane from Tel Aviv. The final obstacle was finding our road closed for the replacement of one of the culverts. So we had to detour around it and arrive home about 3:50. I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow.