Our Last Day and 29+ Hours to Return

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End Apr 11, 2013

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We got up for breakfast at 8:00 and then headed to the Western Wailing Wall. As soon as we passed into the Jewish Quarter things were much cleaner and better taken care, I suppose because there is more money and fewer people living in poverty. Before entering the area by the Wall we had to go through Israeli Security.   The Wailing Wall is not a wall of the old Temple but one of the retaining walls that helped hold up the Temple.  The men went on one side and the women on the other.  I prayed for many people while I was there, but especially the Palestinians.  The men had to have their head covered to pray at the wall and they furnished disposable yarmulkes for them to wear.  Larry just wore his ball cap and that was okay.  I took a couple of pictures while I was there and a young woman gave me a dirty look.  I asked before I went in and an Israeli man told me to just be discreet.  Oh well!  We noticed that when the women left the wall they backed away from it, probably as a sign of respect, so we did the same thing.

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 found a short cut back to our hostel. 

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.  The rest of us headed to the bus station, out the Damascus Gate and up Nablus Street.  We caught the bus to Shuafat where Sabeel is located.  When we got off the bus Paulette called Sabeel and Melissa came to meet  us.  When we told her we had not eaten she led us to a Falafel shop and got a huge Falafell sandwich.  When we got back we met with ??? a young Palestinian Christian.  Sabeel is a center for Palestinian Liberation Theology.  He told us about the center and about the special qualities of Palestinian Liberation Theology.  I have to admit, I was dozing off a little and didn’t hear it all.  It got really interesting later on when he was telling us about his childhood and losing a classmate during the second intifada.  He told us that he is engaged to be married and has to make the decision to live outside of East Jerusalem which limits him in many ways.  He said his sister is in an “illegal” marriage because she is from within the city and her husband is not.  So their children do no have birth certificates, cannot get work permits, driver’s licenses, or have a bank account, CRAZY!  He has decided to live outside where his most of his family is and to build a house without a permit, which is impossible to get.  This means his house could be torn down at any time.  I can’t imagine what it is like to live like this!  Sabeel has written what they call the Kairos Document to explain Liberation Theology in light of the Palestinians.  They had lots of literature and books some of which were free and others were for purchase.

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.  It took about an hour to get there.  We had no trouble except that we were too early.  United wasn’t open yet.  We went through security about five times but had no troubles.  When we got through with all but the last security we stopped at a food court and got pastries and juice or coffee.  Then we walked around a bit and went through the last security.  Larry and I walked a little bit through the shops and got our son a t-shirt.  Then we went to the gate.  We took off a little late.  The flight was pretty smooth and our path took us over Eastern Europe, northern UK, Iceland, Greenland and Labrador.  They fed us four times.  We had pretzels and a drink when we first got on.  Then they served us a big meal with either chicken or beef.  Later it was a lunch of sandwiches and cookies.  The last meal was shortly before we arrived and it was breakfast of either  quiche or eggs.  We landed in Newark shortly after 5:00 pm.  We got through Passport Control and Customs easily collecting our bags and rechecking them.  Then we had to go through security again.  Phung had to unpack all of the olive wood carvings in her backpack to have them x-rayed again.  We found our gate and found out that our flight would be an hour later than the pushed back time.  So we were now scheduled to leave at 10:05 instead of 9:12.  Matt and Paulette had naps.  Some of us went to Rubies to get a milkshake.  We are sitting at the gate and it is 10:23 and the board just changed to 12:00 am arriving at 2:06.  So who knows when or if it will go tonight

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.
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dtyukody on

If any of you pilgrims should read these comments of your blog, please know that your trip was moving, sad, frustrating and heartfelt for those of us back home. I look forward to hearing your stories and impressions in person and I wait anxiously to know what each of you believes your next steps are to eradicate the injustice to Palestinians. Welcome back to the U.S.

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