Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

Day #1

From Mac, Scottsdale, AZ

The group safely arrived in Tel Aviv Monday evening after an 11 hour flight. The east coast of the United States is seven hours earlier than Israel-Palestinian Territories time, and nine hours difference from Arizona. Last night we had a good dinner and went to bed to recover as much as we could from jet lag.

Today we had a very full day: Our hotel is on the ridge of the Mount of Olives and has a spectacular view of the Old City of Jerusalem. We began our day walking down the street from our hotel toward Jerusalem on the road that some think was the road Jesus took towards Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. On each side of the road are enormous Jewish graveyards. We stopped at Dominus Flevit Church that commenmorates Jesus' weeping for Jerusalem and its future destruction. Then we made our way down the Mount of Olives a bit further to the Garden of Gethsemane, filled with ancient olive trees. It is amazing how close together thes Biblical sites are. It was very moving for many of us to finally walk in places that we had only read about in our Bible for so many years.

In the late morning and early afternoon we turned our attention to the political conflict as we visited with Bishop Riah, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem. He shared the voice and concerns of the Palistinian Christian population. According to Bishop Riah there are only 8,000 Palestinian Christians living in the city of Jerusalem today. After a brief lunch we met with the human rights group, Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolition (ICAHD). We learned about their work and were given a tour of East Jerusalem to see where Jewish settlements were being established in traditionally Palestinian areas. Finally, we took our bus to Ramallah, an all Palestinian city of the West Bank,and visited the Ramallah Quaker Meeting. We heard from the clerk of that church and then enjoyed a fine meal at a Ramallah restaurant. A highlight of the meals so far has been the wonderful variety of salads that are often an appetizer to the main courses.

We're off to a great start of learning and listening!

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