Jerusalem is arguably the most holy city in the world, since it is central to the traditions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. It’s an anxious and divided place, but also a place of great devotion. While the pilgrims from St. Martin’s (Williamsburg VA) are here in the holy city, several things are happening at once.
Today, May 2, we were honored to share in Holocaust Remembrance Day* with prayer at the Western Wall. Many of us prayed for friends and family, some of whom had delegated us with particular intentions.
In addition to today’s Jewish remembrance, Jerusalem is also preparing for the holy month of Ramadan, when hundreds of thousands of Muslims will converge in the city. Non-Muslims are not always allowed on the Temple Mount, the heavily guarded site of the al-Aqsa Mosque, but we were able to visit today. The Temple Mount is important as well to Christians and Jews since it is the site of the Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. We saw the corner of the ancient Temple Mount built by Herod the Great, as well as rubble from the Temple’s destruction, the giant stones still laying where they fell.
To spend time in Jerusalem is to be overwhelmed by the sounds and the history and the noise. (For a wonderfully poignant story about Jerusalem check out this song by David Wilcox.)
*In 2007 the UN designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the liberation in 1945 of Auschwitz-Berkenau. Israel marks the day separately.