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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘old city of jerusalem’

Israel Capitulating, Satisfied Arabs Postponing Condemnations

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

The Israeli government has finally capitulated and agreed to allow a mission from UNESCO, the UN’s cultural arm, to visit sites within the Old City of Jerusalem starting May 19.

Israel has also has agreed to take part in a Paris meeting of experts next month on the Mughrabi Ascent. There’s no telling what those experts want, other than to harass Israel a little more over the Mughrabi Ascent saga.

The Mughrabi Ascent is a sand embankment which provides access to the Mughrabi Gate of the Temple Mount from the area of the Western Wall.

During the winter of 2004, the Mughrabi Ascent collapsed because of too much rain, too much snow and a little earthquake. Since the Mughrabi Gate is the only entrance for non-Muslim visitors and Israeli security forces to the Temple Mount, a temporary wooden bridge was erected, and plans were drawn for a permanent bridge.

There also happens to be an archeological excavation going on at the same site.

Israel has been acting transparently, both regarding the excavation and the plans for a permanent bridge to connect the Kotel area to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians have a vested interest in sabotaging both the archeology and the bridge building. So why should Israel acquiesce this time?

Because in return for cooperation with UNESCO, the Palestinians will postpone five resolutions “condemning Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.”

“It’s a door that was opened,” Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan told the Post. “It’s a move toward confidence building and an attempt to see whether there is forward movement.”

Palestinian Ambassador Elias Sanbar said the five resolutions condemning Israel are in areas from settlements to archeological excavations. And the Palestinians are not deleting them, the are simply postponing them until September.

Bully for us!

So, let’s see, what could be so bad about admitting an UNESCO mission officially into East Jerusalem?

Back in October 2010, UNESCO’s Executive Board voted to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as “al-Haram al-Ibrahimi” and “Bilal bin Rabah Mosque,” stating that they were “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories” and that any unilateral Israeli action there was considered a violation of international law.

So, based on the above, how do you think this new UNESCO mission is going to end? Are we going to be spared new condemnations and name changes from Hebrew to Arabic?

As the Washington Post put it on Tuesday, the decision to let the mission roam our streets was “a victory that carried big hopes for those hoping to end the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians.”

That’s two hopes in one sentence, which could only mean the Post can no longer afford line editors, or that there’s a whole bunch of hope coming our way.

Why Don’t We Celebrate Two Days of Purim in Jerusalem?

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

While the rest of Israel celebrates Purim this Sunday (the 14th of Adar), Jerusalem celebrates on Monday (the 15th of Adar).

Why?

Well, the easy answer is “because Jerusalem is a walled city from the time of Joshua.”

Which is partially right.  Jerusalem was a walled city in the time of Joshua, but the walls we see today were built in the 1500s, in the Ottoman Era.  From the early 13th century and until the mid-16th century, Jerusalem was not a walled city at all.  And indeed, it was unclear to the Jews of that time when they should celebrate Purim.

Rabbi Eshtori Ha-Parchi of the 14th century tells us that when he came to Israel, he was told that in Jerusalem they celebrated on both the 14th and 15th of Adar, as they were uncertain which one they were obligated to keep.  Rabbi Eshtori brings an entire Halachic discussion about what should be done, and adds that he wrote his rabbi, Rabbi Matityah in Bet-Shean, to ask him what he should do.

Rabbi Matityah wrote him back: If I would be in Jerusalem on the 14th of Adar, and they would read the Megillah, I would leave the synagogue.  Otherwise they could say about me “The fool walketh in darkness” (Ecclesiastes 2, 14).  And the same is true for Tiberias.

Rabbi Eshtori finished by saying that Rabbi Matityah is right.

We don’t know what changed the minds of the Jews of Jerusalem, but today there is no doubt – and we celebrate Purim in Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar.

Visit the Muqata.

What a Cup of Soup Means

Monday, February 11th, 2013

For most people, we live our lives within circles. We travel from our homes to our work, an occasional night out and perhaps, if we are lucky, once or twice a year, we break out of the circle and fly off or drive off somewhere exciting for a few weeks. And then we return to our circles and remember the last vacation or dream of the next.

A few among us break this pattern and spend part of their lives flying very often as part of their jobs. As I organized this year’s MEGAComm (www.megacomm.org), I met two of these men. One came from India, one came from Canada. In addition to an amazing day of sessions and all, I had a chance to take each around a bit.

It is quite an experience to see your country, your world, through another’s eyes. On the first day, I took our guest from New Delhi around the walls of the Old City, parked on Mt. Zion, and walked with him through the Jewish Quarter and a bit of the Arab shuk (open market/bazaar). On the way down to the Kotel, the Western Wall, a woman stopped us.

She had a cup of hot liquid (soup, I guess) in her hand. I thought she was asking for money, as often happens there. Usually, I give a few coins, here and there. But this time, I realized that I had left the car with only my keys and cellular phone. I began to apologize when she said she didn’t want money.

She then handed me the soup and said, “could you give this to Shoshana?”

Almost as a reflex, I took the hot soup but looked at her in confusion, “who is Shoshana?”

“She’s sitting at the bottom on the steps, on the way to the Kotel,” she answered.

Now, I’ve never met Shoshana and it all seemed a bit strange. On the other hand, why not? So, I took the soup and set off with my guest, explaining about various sites in the Old City while carrying a warm cup of soup.

After a few minutes of walking, I came to the top of the many steps that lead down to the plaza where the Kotel stands. I’ve never counted the steps…but there are dozens of them – at a guess, I would say at least 50-60. I had planned to go about half way down where the view is incredible. Apparently, God and Shoshana’s friend had other plans. So, I gave my quick explanation, aware the soup would get cold.

Then I glanced down the steps – and found not one woman, but two, sitting on the side in chairs hoping people would give them money. Which was Shoshana?

I approached the first, “Are you Shoshana?” I asked her and she said she was not.

I approached the second, already sure this was the intended recipient. She already was looking at the soup, “Shoshana?” I asked and she confirmed that she was, gratefully took the soup, and thanked me – even gave me a blessing.

I think my guest from India was wondering in what kind of society does a stranger hand you a cup of soup? In what world do you then go searching to deliver it?

We walked down to the Kotel plaza; I explained about how this was retaining wall for our ancient Temples. I pointed to the levels of stone and explained about how the land on the other side is so much higher that a century or two ago, Arabs would throw garbage down on the Jewish worshipers and so a generous man from Europe donated funds to add the smaller stones and raise the level of the Wall.

I explained about how we turn to this Wall, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, three times a day in our prayers and finally we began to climb back up those 60 or so stairs. Around 30 stairs up, a man stopped us, took my guest’s hand and as he began blessing him in rapid fire Hebrew (not a word of which could my friend understand), the man tied a red string around his wrist. Then he turned to me, carefully tying a string around my wrist as well.

Visualizing the Beit HaMikdash

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Coming soon…

Visit The Muqata.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/visualizing-the-beit-hamikdash/2012/12/25/

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