If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem . . .

UPDATE 8:00 am Israel time Saturday:

Rockets, missiles, attempted infiltrations, and stabbings. If it’s not one thing here in Israel, it’s another as a continuous war is being waged by the Palestinians against the people of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and southern Israel.

Yesterday morning, we had a Palestinian terrorist attempting to place another IED on the Gaza border fence–similar to the one that blew up last week badly wounding Capt. Ziv Shilon. In this case, the terrorist was spotted, targeted by an Israeli tank, and killed.

Yesterday evening, a young Israeli Jewish man was stabbed in the back by two Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood. Despite deep wounds, he managed to make it to a police checkpoint where he was airlifted to a hospital. The terrorists escaped. This morning, the man is in “stable condition.”


Your humble servant is continuing his Jerusalem picture tour today. As was noted in yesterday’s blog, these pictures were taken last week when my wife and I visited some of Jerusalem’s northern and southern neighborhoods including Pisgat Ze’ev and Gilo. However, no trip to Jerusalem would be complete without a trip to the Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall).

We begin today outside the Jaffa Gate at our favorite bagel cart where 7 shekels will buy you a huge Jerusalem bagel and a small bag of zatar (a mixture of salt and hyssop):

Plain bagels, sesame bagels, sweet bagels--but most of all notice the famed long oblong Jerusalem bagels. That's the entrance to the Jaffa Gate in the upper left background of the picture.

We enter the Jaffa Gate, the scene of so much bloodshed and drama over the centuries. It is here that the architects who constructed the Old City walls are entombed. Tradition has it that they were executed by Suleiman (who commissioned them) for having left Mt. Zion and the tomb of King David outside of the Old City.  And it was through this gate that General Allenby famously entered the city on foot in 1917.

Once inside, we come face to face with the Tower of David (also known as the Citadel) that was built in the second century BCE. It still looms over the plaza with a stony majesty:

At the Citadel

From this point, we head straight to the Kotel–and the shortest route takes us down through the warrens of the Muslim Quarter with its hundreds of merchants selling everything from exotic spices to Israeli T-shirts and Christian, Muslim, and Jewish jewelry.

Two way traffic in the Muslim Quarter. Note the tourist in the white dress walking in the direction of the camera. Because of her clothing, Jews would not allow her to cross the plaza in front of the Kotel, Muslims would not allow her on the Temple Mount, and Christians would not allow her in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem demands respect from those who visit her.

Then, we pass through a police checkpoint between the Muslim and Jewish Quarters and burst out upon the plaza in front of the Kotel.

Note that even in this small group of worshipers you have kids and tourists with backpacks, a blackcoated Chasidic man in the middle, and modern orthodox men with white shirts and black pants to the left. Of course, you don’t see any women–because they are on the women’s side to the right of the picture.

A large group of schoolboys in the plaza on a field trip. Note the women's partition, the ramp leading up to the Temple Mount, and the Mughrabi Gate high up on the Wall to the right.

As regular readers of this blog know, your humble servant goes to the Wall at least once a month and places a list of people who support Israel by supporting this blog into one of its hundreds of crevices. And so I did last Tuesday:

Most people who come to the Kotel write the names of people or a message onto a piece of paper and place it in the wall with a prayer for good health. You might notice the ring I wear on my left hand. It reads: "If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill."

Despite the relatively sparse attendance at the Kotel last Tuesday, there (as always) were numerous tour groups from numerous countries. In the space of an hour, we saw Brazilians, Italians, Nigerians, Russians, and Greeks–each group with its own flag leading the way.

A group of tired looking young Norwegians. Getting around the Old City involves many steep climbs and descents.

Once we leave the Kotel Plaza we start up through the Jewish Quarter–a steep climb that offers many interesting vistas, including this one that looks to the south of the Temple Mount out to the vast Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and Silwan to the right.

The taxis are headed toward the Dung Gate, just outside this picture to the right. The Dung Gate was so named because it was through this gate that the refuse from the city was carried out and dumped in the Kidron valley.

As you have discerned by now, we did not go up to the Temple Mount–not because we didn’t want to but simply because it was not open to non-Muslims when we were there (the Israeli government unbelievably permits the Islamic Wakf to strictly curtail when Jews, Christians, and people of other faiths can visit the Mount).

Nevertheless, we can all dream about a day when that will not be true–perhaps a day when the Third Jewish Temple will be built on the Mount. To that end, as I have reported in previous blogs, organizations are already busy constructing the elements of that Temple. At the top of the steps leading out of the Plaza, you will find this glass encased golden menorah:

A menorah that has already been built according to Biblical specifications for inclusion in the Third Jewish Temple.

Your humble servant wishes that you, dear reader, will come to Jerusalem at your earliest opportunity to experience its boundless spirituality and magnificence.  

A daily feature of this blog is the recognition of those of you who support Israel by donating to this website. Each month, your humble servant places each name on this wall of support into the Western Wall in Jerusalem. 


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