Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Set Our Feet Toward Jerusalem

May 18th, 2007

We arose at a decent time this morning after yesterday's early wake-up call. We had a delicious b'fast, and soon prepared to make our way up to Taba passport check-point, with a ride from Moussa and Ead!

After we waved good-bye to Henry, who was off on a three day camel trek, we were soon on our way to Taba. The images of the empty hotel resorts on the coast, along with all the check-points, and the need to hire a security detail for the ride up, was a lot to think about. The beauty of the Sinai was all around us, but the sense of fear is high in a land that has been gripped by insecurity and war for ages.

In Eilat, we re-traced our footsteps of a few days earlier. We got a taxi at the passport check-point; got to the bus station and I purchased a Herald-Tribune to read on the five hour bus trip back to Jerusalem. The ride back was quiet, though the ride is wild because of all the twists and turns of the road.

Back in Jerusalem, we were surprised to find everything shutting down at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem: it was Shabbath! Nothing was open! Buses were shutting down; restaurants were closed; shops were empty; banks were shut tight: all of west Jerusalem, the Jewish section, was literally shutting down. People were running home before dinner was served.

We met John Leonard, a Carolinian who is living in Tel Aviv, and is a graduate of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As he reminded us, Tel Aviv is the European city of Israel that never sleeps, while it is Jerusalem in which the laws of the Jewish community hold sway, though not even the airline El Al flies on Shabbath.

Of course, dinner that night was Az Ahara in east Jerusalem, which was open for our final supper!

Pilgrim peace, Brett