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Notes from the Holy Land: Shabbat Shalom!

March 10, 2014
By Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton
General Secretary, The Canadian Council of Churches
Shabbat Shalom!

This morning offered a variety of ways of engaging in faith and land.
Some of us went to the Sabbath services of the only English-speaking Conservative synagogue in Jerusalem. A remarkable service, made more remarkable by the fact that the community was marking International Women's Day by having the founder of 'Women of the Wall' as a speaker. She powerfully related efforts made and successes achieved in encouraging the equal rights of women in Jerusalem.

Some of us went to the Israel Museum to be fascinated by the Dead Sea Scrolls and the treasures of archaeology and historical life in this land. The Rodin sculpture of Adam and the scale model of the ancient city of Jerusalem held us in thrall.

And some of us much enjoyed rambling the narrow, ancient streets of the old city and the economic opportunities they offered. (Shopping!!!)fransiscans_holy sepulchre

Together we then spent the afternoon on an in-depth tour of the Christian sites of the old city - the Armenian quarter, complete with an Armenian procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the incense, music, crowds and deep, deep history of the Church, its Armenian and Coptic Orthodox chapels and even the Ethiopian Orthodox monastery on the roof! And speaking of roofs - the view from the roof of the Austrian hostel is spectacular!

Our evening offered two choices, the Sound and Light show and the tour of the Western Wall tunnels, an experience which so many of us described as awesome. The enormity of the tunnels and cisterns, the enormity of the building process of the Temple's foundation wall, the levels and levels of history. We were filled with questions and comments and at the same time we were speechless in awe.

Top Photo: Auguste Rodin's "Adam" / photo from wikimedia commons
Bottom Photo: Fransiscans process at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre /courtesy Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton
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