NT, Schindler's Grave, and Vlachi

Trip Start May 19, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Jerusalem University College

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Still no creative title.  Take that travelpod!

Started the morning off right at 6:00 with a short workout, because we had to be walking by 7:00 once again, this time on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  When we arrived, our professor was able to say about a dozen sentences explaining the background of the site before he was interrupted by a cacophony of bells associated with the worship of one of the 6 groups that has a claim to a various portion of the church grounds.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, yes I saw the way the church was divided amongst the groups "Coptic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian, Greek Orthodox, and Roman Catholic" and yes it was a sad reflection upon the divided nature of the Church today.  So much petty infighting about so many things that aren't important.  However.  After a fashion, one can and should expect nothing different from the different churches in regards to this extremely holy site.  People fight over what they love and find sacred; if I truly believe that I have control of a pillar that holds up a part of the church that marks where Jesus was buried and raised, I'm going to fight tooth and claw for that pillar, and the floor it sits on, and the window next to it.  Anything less, and you've got to question how firmly held that belief is.  All that to say, of course I don't want the Church or the church divided, but perhaps after a fashion it is in these sad divisions that we find the proof of our devotion.  Just food for thought.

From the Holy Sepulcher we moved to various sites associated with Christ's ministry, moving first to what was probably his trial location near the Jaffa Gate where Herod's Palace would have been, then to the Temple Steps.  A couple impressive things about these:  it had never really struck me what a statement it would have been to the Jewish authorities for Peter's Pentecost sermon to have pulled in 3000 converts literally on the way to worship in the Temple.  Suddenly it's easy to see why a wave of persecution would descend upon the followers of this trouble-making Rabbi who had finally been silenced.  Second, near the retaining wall there was a pile of rubble from where the Romans had destroyed literally everything on top of the Temple mound by levering it over the retaining wall.  Considering the size of some of the rocks in the pile, think small school bus size, that's quite a statement, what my professor would call the rhetoric of destruction.  Third, it was a lot of fun crawling through the ruins of the ritual baths, in the water course that would have fed them which went nearly full on dark after a few turns in the limestone.  Nothing profound there, just some quality exploring.

Ended the tour in the ruins of some of the homes of the Sadducees, the Temple priestly elite class of Jesus' day, which were destroyed in 70 AD when the Romans rolled into town with a vengeance.  Nothing particularly profound here either, just a reinforcement of the idea that, when it comes to it, when money meets weapons, weapons win.

After lunch, Dr. Vlachos led a group of us to a cemetery not far from the college where Oscar Schindler was buried.  You can do worse for yourself than being remembered as "righteous among the nations" for your heroism.  I'm still coming to grips with it.  In a way, it was profoundly tragic, the way the cemetery in which he and many others were buried is left poorly maintained but still clearly visited.  On the other hand, as a community you have to move on from tragedy, and perhaps memorializing yet another death in a large and showy fashion "Schindler's grave was just one among many" is not a way to break with a morbid past.  Point B:  I got a photo that shows Schindler's grave in the foreground, with, disappearing over a hill on the horizon, the dividing wall between Israel and the West Bank "this'll make it online eventually, one I can export it and stuff'.  At risk of making a political statement, I don't think that's what he struggled to save thousands of Jews to accomplish.

After Schindler's grave:  class "hydrology and climate of the region and subsequently the various crops that can be grown therein" during which I had a hard time staying awake today in spite of the fact that I was actually interested in what was being taught, a workout with some of the crew, and then dinner.  Then it was out on the town for Gelato and moseying with Molly and Dr. and Mrs. Vlachos.  Fun fact:  even if you think you're getting a good deal, you're getting ripped off.  End of story.  Fun fact #2:  as a history major, I'm geared to learn from the mistakes of others, so I'm not the poorer for it.  I am, however, the poorer for leaving the razors and shaving cream I bought on a table at a coffee shop because I was afraid we'd lost one of the girls.  C'est la vie.

Tomorrow we bus out way too early to the Mount of Olives, then Bethlehem, which means I'm already looking at too little sleep tonight.  I think that's all for now.  Peace, blessings, and I love love.  Trust me it makes sense, just ask the hippies singing in the plaza outside Jaffa Gate.
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Scotty on

I wish I'd seen Schindler's grave! Reading every day, fyi. Mock the dividing wall for me in Bethlehem tomorrow. That's a great, memorable day. Also - forgot to tell you - if given the chance, definitely spend the night at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Pretty awesome experience.

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