Rodolfo and I recently went to watch a light show at the Tower of David museum. They project images on the sides of the ancient buildings inside the complex, making it like a huge movie screen. It was kind of like Fantasia, Jerusalem style. They were trying to tell the whole history of Jerusalem, from ancient times to today, in less than an hour, so it was a bit confusing in parts. The show was very artistic and symbolic, rather than historically accurate, but the way that they adapted the picture to fit exactly on the buildings was very cool. They used existing stairs, windows and towers inside the complex as parts of the scenery. Learn more about the show and view photos on their website.
The Western Wall (also called the Kotel or the Wailing Wall), the holiest place on Earth for our Jewish neighbors, is one of my favorite places to go on Friday nights.
At the start of Shabbat, hundreds and hundreds of people come there to pray, dance, sing and study. You can watch what’s happening there at any time of day or night with the Kotel webcam. View on the Kotel website.
This week we happened upon a place in the Old City called the Alexander Podvorie. It is a Russian Orthodox church very close to the Holy Sepulchre, which contains a part of the ancient city wall from Christ’s time. It is a very beautiful, quiet and peaceful place, in stark contrast to the chaos, noise, politics and tourism of the Holy Sepulchre church. It is filled with gorgeous icons.
And, as in many Orthodox traditions, women are expected to cover their hair and dress modestly (which means skirts). I arrived in jeans with loose hair, and they gave me a little apron to tie over my jeans and a babushka kerchief to wear.
I think I look a little silly, but I admire their requirement of respect in this holy place. Though the Holy Sepulchre is an amazing place, the chaos there can often detract from the possibly life-changing spirituality of the place. It sometimes reminds me of the money-changers of the Temple that Jesus reacts to in the Gospels (See Matthew 21:12-13). May it someday once again be a “house of prayer.”
Overheard this week at the Barniol house: “Take that, Lisbeth Salander, the ‘girl who played with fire!’ I’m the girl who played with liquid hot flying falafel oil!” This week’s recipe attempt should have been really easy; it was just falafel from a mix, which we have even made in Austin before. But we learned the hard way that the pan with the oil must be completely dry before heating the oil. This pan had just been washed and had a few little beads of water on it. The beads of water were trapped in the heating oil, and just as I was about to point them out to Rodolfo and maybe try to remove them, one ruptured and sent an oil gusher about four feet in the air. I dove out of the way (in an impressive martial-art style move, Rodolfo said), but I still got covered in an oil spray. Thank God, the oil wasn’t very hot yet, or it could have done some serious damage. “This is actually a good thing,” Rodolfo said. “We deep fry things so infrequently that we don’t even really know how!” We learned our lesson about the dry pan. And the falafel came out pretty good too…
But honestly, there are some places in town, like in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, where (really good) falafel can be had for so cheap that it’s not even worth the effort or the risk to your life to attempt to deep fry at home.
Last Sunday we attended Mass at the Basilica of the Agony in Gethsemane, just east of the Old City. This beautiful church is also called the Church of All Nations because it was commissioned by several different countries. It marks the place where Jesus experienced the Agony in the Garden just before his arrest.
The countries that paid for it are honored in the details of the architecture. For instance, in the ceiling mosaic of the dome in honor of the US, the Seal of the United States can be seen, along with the night sky and the olive trees from the bible story.
This week we went out for sushi at a place called Sakura in the city center. The New York Times calls it the best sushi in town, and it was amazing! AND… it was non-kosher. So we dined on delicious shrimp nigiri, shrimp tempura and calamari tempura! We’re up to three non-kosher meals in three months!
And here’s something that you don’t see every day back home…
Have a wonderful week!