Yom Kippur

To Fast or… Not so Fast

I started the day by going to the Western Wall for a second time. I went the day before, but wasn’t allowed to take any pictures because it was Shabbat. I wanted to go again to capture some of the activity for you all.

Hey Kid, shouldn’t you be reading your Torah??? Today’s header picture was taken at the Western Wall.

Mosheh and Mark met me there and I spent the rest of the day with them.

We went to the City of David first and walked one of the trails there. The lady at the ticket counter didn’t mention that the park would be closing at noon due to Yom Kippur, so we only got to walk one trail. I plan to go back, maybe Wednesday, to see the rest of it. I love the historic archeology and the water tunnels.

Then we decided, since places were shutting down early, to find a place for lunch. Our first option was a sandwich place in the mall just outside Old Jerusalem, next to the tower of David. We too a little tourist train from the Western Wal to the mall. Unfortunately, the sandwich place had no bread and was only serving coffee and pastries. Sandwiches are terrible without bread. We walked into Old Jerusalem and found a restaurant and had a pretty good lunch.

We then went to the birthplace of the Virgin Mary, then Lions gate, and then up to the Damascus Gate. We parted ways at the gate, me heading back to my hotel and Mosheh and Mark heading back to their’s.

I’m writing this on Monday, Sept 25 at 6am. Yom Kippur officially started last night at sundown and will continue all day today until sundown. My final meal yesterday was actually here in my hotel by accident. I got back to the hotel at about 6 yesterday and wanted to go through pictures but didn’t want to hide in my room. The hotel has a really pretty courtyard, so I went downstairs to sit outside and enjoy the rest of the day.

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but the hotel I’m staying at is in the Muslim area of Jerusalem and most of the staff are Islamic. They were all sitting outside and talking so I joined them. They were speaking in Arabic, so I actually didn’t understand anything, but the gentleman that is the breakfast attendant, Nayfe, and his cousin, who works at the Waldorf Astoria (he had an hour break to come visit), translated their conversation. The larger group was discussing the challenges of having families – the expenses and issues around school, work, college, house/home, and so on.

Nayfe, explained that he and others that work at the hotel are also staying in the hotel because they can’t go home right now. They live in the west bank and the checkpoints are closed for Yom Kippur. They come into Jerusalem having work permits but have to be aware of when checkpoints are open or closed. They also explained a little about the Palestinian perspective on who gets to occupy Jerusalem and why there is so much fighting.

They had some Arabic food delivered to the hotel and insisted that I join them for dinner that evening. We had rice, roasted chicken, and a barley soup. All very good, and very different from the Israeli food, which is mostly Mediterranean.

The question of fasting is actually a philosophical one – the truth is, since I’m in the Muslim quarter, the restaurants are all open. This is not true of the Jewish areas. I’m not sure about the Christian area, though. My plan for today is to spend another day roaming around Old Jerusalem – if it is open, to maybe walk the top of the walls. The hotel staff gave me some recommendations on nearby coffee and restaurants that are on the way to Old Jerusalem.

I will have coffee – I think that breaks the fast… UPDATE: I had breakfast. I’m not very good at fasting.

As a reminder, Yom Kippur, also known as the day of repentance is the last day of the Ten Days of Repentance, which starts with Rosh Hashanah. It is the holiest day in Judaism.

So, If I’ve wronged you in any way, I hope you will forgive me.

My favorite ‘activities’ so far:
1. City of David: I want to go back and explore this park more. The history and archeology in this national park is riveting.
2. Hanging out at a restaurant having a coffee and watching tour groups go by. There are so many tour and pilgrimage groups going by. I am curious if there will be any today. The South American ones are especially interesting. One of the men will be carrying a cross for the group of about 30 as they go from station to station. At each station they will pray and sing a song. Some of them have custom vests or bags as part of their tour and come from all over the world to Jerusalem.

The most interesting group were all wearing construction safety vests. Mark, Mosheh, and I were discussing what a travesty it would be if an innocent pilgrim were mistaken for one of the many construction workers in the area. Imagine a poor little old lady, who just wanted to see the Church of the Holy Sepulcher getting roped into a hard day’s labor!

So far, I’ve been walking about 11 miles per day.  Above are maps showing my walking paths.  Saturday is on the left and Sunday is on the right.