A weekend in Jerusalem

After the happening place that Tel Aviv is, we are ready to spend a weekend in Jerusalem, the traditional nexus of three religions: Judaism, Islam and Catholicism. Each religion places both historical and religious significance to Jerusalem and has been a religious destination for thousands of years.
Considered a “tinder box” ~ ready to flare up at any second, it is suggested that perhaps we stay away from  Jerusalem and especially the Arab quarter.  And if in the Arab quarter, to not go to Haram Al Sharif (Golden dome of the Rock).
We are not sure what to make of this advice, as we have encountered similar advice in other places,  all with a variety of reasons and problems and each of course very different. We usually make your own decisions based on our own comfort level and so we choose to go to Jerusalem for a weekend.
In the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967 with my family. (Me, in the middle.)
Shortly before we arrive in Israel there has been yet another cycle of violence and tensions are naturally high in Jerusalem.
(We are choosing not to address these incidents in our blog as it is impossible to put these incidents into proper context without significant discussion on the complicated Arab/Israeli and Jewish/Palestinian relations. The level of analysis is beyond the scope of what we want to address in this blog.)
We take the short bus ride from Tel Aviv up into the hills of Jerusalem.
The first sight of the walls around the Old City of Jerusalem is always dramatic, especially in the sunset as we see it upon arrival.
Inside the old city there is a maze of cobble stone streets, narrow passageways and priceless architecture.
A central fountain with small restaurants around and vendors selling bread and local sweets.
We love the use of the creamy white  Jerusalem lime stone that is so prevalent in the architecture and in the winding streets.  By municipal law, back from British mandate times, every building in Jerusalem has to be faced or built with it.
As we walk around the Old City, I (Peta) am interested in finding and seeing the Hurva synagogue as my grandmother’s great great grandfather, Mordechai Schnitzer was a rabbi and the sculptor who did the woodwork carving on the ark.
According to a book called “Half the House: My life in and out of Jerusalem”, by Rachel Berghash: “The artist Mordechai Schnitzer, came to Eretz Yizrael from Poland in 1810. He became a sculptor and a painter, a restorer of holy arks.  He made objects of art for visiting British and Austro-Hungarian royalty”.  Another biographical study describes him thus: “In addition to being a great Talmudic scholar and kabbalist, R’ Mordechai Schnitzer was a talented sculptor. He created the historic aron hakodeshin the ancient Menachem Tzion study hall in the Churva Synagogue in the Old City and the aron hakodesh in the Istanbul Synagogue.”  
 The Hurva Synagogue was the largest Sephardic synagogue in Jerusalem at the time. It was  destroyed and rebuilt a few times.
After walking through winding streets in the Jewish Quarter we find our way to the stone square in front of the Herva synagogue.
Outside the Hurva synagogue ~ Connecting with my artistic ancestor, 6 generations removed!
(Unfortunately the synagogue was closed when we were there so we could not go in.)
On the roof tops a father and his sons are on their way to the Western wall.
A beautiful mezuza graces a doorway in the Old City of Jerusalem, Jewish Quarter
A colorful mosaic wall in the Old City
Ultra Orthodox Jews (black hats) make their way to the Western Wall for prayer on Shabbat.
View of the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock (Haram Al Sharif) side by side. Holiest of sites.


Antiquities a plenty in small shops in the Souk.

 Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Headquarters of the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem. The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since the 4th century as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus
Stained glass windows in the church.
The Orthodox Patriarch in his office of the church. Ben’s photograph ~ Reminiscent of a Vermeer painting!
A Greek Orthodox priest lights the oil lamps.
Light pours in to the Church highlighting the gold domed ceiling.
Catching some Jerusalem sun rays outside the Church of the Sepulchre.
Signs turn to Arabic as we head towards the Damascus Gate.
Plenty of Israeli soldiers in the Arab Quarters of the Old City.
Fantastic lunch of Masabacha (Hummus)  —  with added spices, whole chickpeas and pools of golden olive oil. Yum!
Covered arched souk leading to the Temple Dome / Haram Al Sharif. We are stopped by police at the entry due to it being Shabbat.
Painting of the Dome in Tel Aviv art museum.
We got this close and then there was a barrier of police.
Approaching Damascus Gate ~ The Arab quarter is a buzz of action and people shopping and socializing.
Damascus Gate outside the city.
There is a light rail line that runs through the center of the new city of Jerusalem.
Near the market in modern Jerusalem, Ultra Orthodox Jews offer instruction and opportunity for putting on tefillin.
Friday afternoon, there is an air of preparation for Shabbat in Jerusalem. A father and his boys.
It is very common all over Israel to see soldiers out and about.
One of the main reasons to visit Jerusalem is to see my best friend from early childhood (from ages 1-15) Monica, who has lived in Jerusalem for most of her adult life with her husband Jules and their seven children. I have visited Monica before, years ago and she has even visited me in Chicago.
 
Monica and I grew up together on the hillside of Linksfield Ridge, Johannesburg. I used to go to her house every shabbat to spend the weekend with her, for quite a number of years.   I loved her so much that I walked with her family a good 45 minutes to shul every Saturday morning and back! and enjoyed celebrating Shabbat with her whole family who were religious, (and mine was not.) 
 
We are lucky to get to meet five of the seven! Monica and Jules take us to the Jerusalem sound and light show which is excellently done in the tower of David, ramparts of the Old City.
Great always to see and be with Monica.
Monica and Peta
Meeting one of Monica’s lovely daughters ~ Shevi.
Gidon, one of Monica’s sons, with his wife and daughter.
Jules (Monica’s husband), Hudi and Gidon at dinner.
Jerusalem market on a Friday morning.
Lots of baklava
Dates a plenty
More varieties of Halva than you can possibly imagine… From chocolate to hazelnuts to peanut butter varieties.  The place is called “Melech HaHalva” (which means King of Halva), for obvious reasons.
Fresh challah is a necessary ceremonial item for Friday night Shabbat dinner table.
Outside the apartment where Daniel lived near Emek Refaim.
We really enjoyed the Emek Refaim neighbourhood where we stayed with Michelle and Danny, good friends of my sister Dina. This too was the neighborhood where she and my brother Daniel lived.

6 thoughts on “A weekend in Jerusalem

  1. JB

    FOR THE FIRST TIE I WISH I WAS THERE WITH YOU…JERUSALEM LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL…JUST WALKING ON THE CENTURIES OLD COBBLE STONES MUST BE SO AMAZING.. FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHY…!!!!!! THANK YOU FOR SHARNG

    1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

      Yes, Jerusalem is stunning. Thank you for the positive feedback on the photography. One seriously good photo is the Vermeer like photograph of the Greek Orthodox priest. So glad you are enjoying our blog and sharing the adventure with us.

  2. Anonymous

    Hola Petita,
    I’ve never seen much about Jerusalem before. Thanks for letting me tag along. It looks very unique any beautiful. Loved seeing you in 1967. Yup, I suppose we actually were kiddos at one point.
    Abrazos de la Navidad,
    Charles

  3. Monica

    I finally got to Jerusalem!! Have been following your travels,, month by month,enthralled by the stunning pictures exquisite and exotic and equally stunning and picturesque descriptions. JERUSALEM……quite cute to see US as part of your exotic travels . We thoroughly enjoyed jerusalem through your eyes

    1. GreenGlobalTrek Post author

      So glad you enjoyed!! Yes now you are a part of our travels. It is always interesting to see how others view the place one lives in day in and day out. So great to have had time with you again and to meet your (now grown up) kids! Love to you.