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On Wednesday we decided to stay in Jerusalem for fear that the Rosh Hashanah festivities that night might cause there to be a lot of traffic. So we walked down the hill from the hotel and went to the Dome of the Rock. We didn't go inside because it costs $15 for a ticket, so we hung out outside and took pictures of the building and surroundings.

Here is a picture of me in front of one of the doors. You can see how beautiful the mosaics are on the outside of the Dome.

After the Dome we went to the Via Dolorosa and did all the stations of the cross. Actually, we did all of them with the exception of those inside the Holy Sepulchre. The first or second station of the cross is called the Lithostratos. It was a building which housed some of the Roman guard, and it was suppose to be here that Jesus was questioned by Pilate and scourged.

Here is Rafael in the Lithostratos. Look at the floor and you can see how old the pavement is. There are etchings in the pavement that are suppose to be related to a kind of Roman checkers game. The soldiers scratched their game board into the stone pavement and played on it.

The stations of the cross on the Via Dolorosa are very unimpressive. Aside from the fact that the street level of Jerusalem of Jesus' time is 20 feet below where you are walking, the markers for the stations are very low key.

Here's a picture of Rafael waving in front of the Third Station. Believe it or not, this is one of the fancy markers. Most of them just have a Roman numeral in front of a doorway or on a wall. This marker has a picture of Jesus stumbling (or whatever the Third Station is suppose to stand for).

Near the end of the Via Dolorosa is the only Lutheran church in the Old City--the Church of the Redeemer. It has one of the tallest (if not the tallest) tower in the Old City. The tower has a very narrow, circular stairway with several hundred steps. Tourists get to climb the stairs to the top and get an incredible 360 degree view of the Old City.

The top picture is a decoration that is on the front of the church. (Lutheran churches often have a sheep or shepherd decoration somewhere.)

The bottom picture is a view from the top of the tower. The view is looking east toward the Mount of Olives.

Later on we separated again. This time Rafael went to another museum, but I went to Mea Shearim. Mea Shearim is the center of the Orthodox Judaism community in Jerusalem. They have a sign on the street that says women aren't allowed in public unless they are modestly dressed. There have been incidents where some of the residents attacked cars with sticks because the people were driving on the Sabbath.

Actually, my primary interest wasn't in seeing all of that. What I really wanted to see was a chair--but not just any chair, the chair of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Rebbe Nachman is one of my favorite theologians. He was an Hasidic Jew that lived in the early 1800's in the Ukraine and became the founder of the Breslover Hasidic movement.

So about the chair: The Breslover Hasids never print a picture of Rebbe Nachman. In fact, I don't even know if there is one. But whenever they want to refer to him graphically, they always show his chair. You can go to their web page and see pictures of this chair all over the place, but never a picture of Rebbe Nachman.

So where is the chair today? It's at the Breslover synagogue in Mea Shearim! I have a funny story about how I found the synagogue. Mea Shearim is about 60 square blocks in area, and I didn't have any map detailed enough to show where this synagogue was. So I sort of "aimed" my way toward the Mea Shearim neighborhood, and I ended up on a street corner very confused because there weren't very many signs in English. Now remember, the whole neighborhood is 60 square blocks, and this synagogue could be anywhere. I asked this guy on the corner where the Breslover synagogue was (or maybe he approached me and asked what I was looking for?). It turns out to be right in front of me on that corner! Another funny thing about this: the guy who talked to me wasn't even a resident, at least he wasn't dressed the part. And he was the only person who even made full eye-contact with me in that neighborhood, let alone talk to me.

I walked inside the synagogue and made my way up to the second floor, and there was the main room. And off in a corner was the chair. There were other people there, and obviously I appeared to be some sort of tourist, but nobody said anything.

I looked at the chair for about 5 minutes and left. I didn't take any pictures because other people were in the room studying or praying and it didn't seem appropriate. But here is a copy of another picture of it.

Return to: Pilgrimage 97 Itinerary and Links

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