After seeing Rebbe Nachman's chair in Mea Shearim, I walked over to the Ben Yehuda shopping area in order to stop by Harrari Harps before all the shops closed for the holiday. (See Sandalphon Links Page for the story about my visit with Shoshanna and her harp playing.)
Later that afternoon, Rafael and I made our way over to the Wailing Wall to see if there were any Rosh Hashanah activities. It was actually pretty quiet. I heard from other people that the major celebration wasn't until the next morning.
After the Wailing Wall we walked through the Old City. It was an hour past sunset at this point and all of the Old City was closed up. They don't have much street lighting, so we had our flashlights with us. It was fun to walk around without anyone there, whereas during the daytime you practically have to muscle your way around.
On Thursday we went back to the Wailing Wall and it was busier. It seems that there are many different Jewish groups (minyans?) that meet at the Wailing Wall for regular services, and each of these groups, as well as some individuals who were there, had a ram's horn to blow through and sound the shofar which is a Rosh Hashanah tradition.
What does the shofar sound like? You can click on the angel at the top of every page to hear the shofar. (Caution! You need to have the proper sound software or there's a chance your computer will crash. See note at the bottom of the Home Page.) Actually I read that there are three traditional sounds for the shofar: the one on this web site, which is sort of a summoning sound, and there's a long, wailing-type of note which is suppose to express sorrow, and there's a stacatto blast which is suppose to ward off evil. I heard all three types while there. It was a lot of fun because so many people were doing it that it was a little noisy, which one might think would be annoying if you were praying, but it added to one's experience of being there, like your silent prayers were part of a concert of prayers and horn blasts.
For some reason I didn't take very many pictures on Thursday. The morning was very relaxed. We weren't even sure what would be open because this was the first day of the holidays. One place that was open is called "David's Tower" which is just inside the Old City at Jaffa Gate. They have a musuem showing the history of Jerusalem with a lot of models of the city at different periods. This picture shows the view from the Old City wall next to David's Tower.
I have a funny story about what we did Thursday afternoon, with no pictures unfortunately. We decided to go to Samuel's Tomb with is about 5 miles east of Jerusalem near Ramallah. We couldn't find the place (surprise). The tomb is in a cave under a mosque, so we were looking for a mosque and we found one that seemed to be too small for the tomb. So I got out of the car and tried to get inside the mosque, and some Moslems saw me and asked what I was doing. I told them and they said the tomb was several miles away. One of them was driving a bus and he told us to follow him and he would show us the road to turn off on.
We eventually made it to the actual mosque and it was deserted except for two shop owners that were playing checkers, and an Israeli soldier. He told us that the tomb has a caretaker who actually lives in the cave and will come up and decide if you can come in or not. So Rafael and I followed the soldier to a door inside the mosque which was locked, and the soldier yelled something in Hebrew and banged on the door with his rifle. Nothing happened. We waited a couple of minutes and the soldier banged some more but nothing. The soldier finally left and Rafael decided to climb the tower to check out the view. I decided to wait to see if this caretaker would show up.
A minute after Rafael left, the caretaker showed up. He was wearing a prayer shawl and some additional religious garments. He seemed pretty clean for someone who lives in a cave. He was about 30 years old and had a full beard and mustache. When he opened the door and asked what I wanted, I told him I wanted to visit the tomb. He then said to me, "Mezzlebot?" and made a steering motion with his hands like he was driving a car. I told him I didn't know what he was asking. He said, "How did you get here?" And I said, "Oh yeah, I drove." And he said, "NO!" and closed the door on me. I guessed later that "Mezzlebot" may have been "Mez-Shabbat" and he was making some comment about the Sabbath. In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah is regarded like a Sabbath (Shabbat) and has some of the same prohibitions of the Sabbath, and you're not suppose to drive on the Sabbath. I think that's why the caretaker wouldn't let us in.
On Friday we probably did the most driving of any day. We first headed over to the coast and up to Caesarea, which is halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. There are a lot of ruins at Caesarea, and they have a fully restored Roman ampitheater right on the water. The stage is between the audience and the Mediterranean Sea, so the audience would get to watch whatever was being performed and the sea at the same time. They apparently still do performances here because I'm pretty sure they didn't have plastic chairs in the Roman period.
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