October 16th, my birthday in the Jerusalem. Got up and Harry had eaten too many Prunes, so Celise and I went to the Church of the Rock without Harry. What a great adventure and the explanation of the way the church is run by five different sects of the Catholic Church are amazing. I thought it was just the Jews that at times don't get along with each other, not so. These five different sects own the church, and they must all agree before improvements are made, with that understanding you understand why this church, of all churches, looks so poor.
This church is built around a rock. Watching the people and they come to the church and see the amazement in their eyes and the true love they have when they touch the rock, these people are believers. I feel like an outsider just observing, but perhaps that is what I am doing. I learn about the Coptic Church and see some of their priests. So ancient in such a modern world. The Greeks own the part of the church where the rock is, so they are taking in the most money. Very strange set up, but it has been like this for several hundred years.
From here we walk back to the hotel to get Harry and walk through a new outside high dollar mall in Jerusalem. Very impressive, but I did not buy Terri the $20,000 diamond necklace, even with the discount for the tax i would not have to pay.
We continue to walk back to the hotel. I think the favorite bird of Jerusalem is the crane, because they are going up everywhere. The construction that is going on is beyond belief. And i am not talking about in expensive apartments. These are $1,000,000 and according to our guide, they are not lived in most of the year.
We get back to the hotel and Harry is doing somewhat better.
Now the fun begins. First off to the Israel museum to see the model of Jerusalem from 70 AD. It is incredible. At 50 to 1 ration, it is more than an acre in size. It was constructed the first time before Israel won the 1967 six Day war and the excavation of the Western Wall, but the correctness and details are astonishing. Then we got to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. More than 2000 years old, these scrolls have been meticulously preserved. I can't tell you how moving it was to learn how luck brought these scrolls to Jerusalem.
Now the treat of the trip so far, we went to the Jewish market right before it closed for Shabbat. The hustle and bustle of the market was contagious. the food offerings we unbelievable. We had fresh lox then we went and bought pita bread and had a sandwich. I had rugglah so fresh it was still warm...chocolate of course. Harry was with us, but very careful about what he ate so he went light. But I almost had to wipe the drool from his face when he saw the various stands of herring and olives. This was a man in heaven. I wanted to buy one each of the bread, but i kept hearing Terri's voice in the background to slow down. Guilt from 7,500 miles away, man she is really good.
We rode the bus back from the market to our hotel and said good bye to our wonderful guide. If you ever go to Israel, having a personal guide is the absolute way to do it.
Harry and I took a rest, and then his friend Jane came and picked us up to go to another friends house for Shabbat dinner. If this is how all of Israel lives, even just for Shabbat, i am just shocked they are all not 300 pounds, and they are not.
We started with prayer, and you could see this was how this family lived every Shabbat. Bringing the family together honoring what G-d has brought them and honoring our tradition. Such a close and wonderful family. the meal was something you should have every night. We started with chicken liver and onions, then had matzo ball soup, then moved to a terrific green salad and then the main course. This consisted of veal, chicken, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower. Then for the sweet course we had ice cream, sherbet, nuts, and fruit.
But the best part of the dinner was the conversation. Harry and Dave spoke about meat packing, then Dave and I shared our common gout illness and the lack of compassion we get when we have an attack. I found out that one of the side affects of the medication to take care of the attack can be irritability. Who knew that was my problem. We all spoke about politics, food, children, business, interior design, and of course, history. However, they all knew all of their biblical history much better than i ever could. Talking about Jewish and Christian history, i was just an eager listener. Their historical insights were so fun to listen to. I can't tell you when i got to listen to a better conversation.
We had to call it a night because they keep the Shabbat, and as such have programed all of their lights to shut off by 1 pm. Jane took us back to the hotel and drove home. the welcoming warmth of Harry's friends has been such a delight. The respect he has with these people is a true comment on how great a person Harry really is.