I skipped Shabbat morning service. I was feeling the need to catch up on sleep. So a group of us left the hotel around 10:30 and took a walking tour of the Orthodox neighborhood on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. As we were walking, Rafi also showed us some buildings all shot up from the 67 war. Then pointed out what used to be Jordan. It’s easy to see that now Israel has all of Jerusalem, they aren’t going to give up any of it. And of course, what do the Muslims want? Jerusalem.
I know the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is supposed to be a big deal and all, but other than the mosaics and the cemetery in the cave, it made no impact on me. But then, unless you’re Jewish, you probably don’t think the Western Wall is all that interesting.
After that, we were bad Jews and went shopping in the Christian quarter after eating falafels. I bought some of the green spice mixture the give you for the fresh bagels they sell in the streets, but other than that I wasn’t really in the shopping mood. Gwen and I sat down and had a coffee.
We met with a couple of rabbis at THE (yes, the only) conservative synagogue in Jerusalem. Most of the people with the group are converts, so the talk was mostly geared towards them and their specific issues and questions. But, I did find out that Israel does indeed now accept converts for aliyah, even if they didn’t convert Orthodox. That’s a fairly recent development. Who knows if it’ll stay in place. As a Jew, all I have to do is basically show up and say “I want to be an Israeli.” And I wouldn’t have to renounce my U.S. citizenship. Anyway, options are good.
After dinner at the hotel, we had our own little havdalah out by the pool. It was our turn to be stared at by the Orthodox. I looked up and there were all these little heads in the windows checking us out. After that, it was off to Ben Yehuda street because apparently there’s no such thing as too much shopping. I just went along for the ride and the sites. Mitch and I just sat and had a beer, then walked around for a few minutes. Everyone else got back by cab, but Patrick and I walked. Close to the hotel, the Orthodox were staring to burn things again and the police and army presence had thickened quite a bit. Sunday night 100,000 Orthodox are supposed to get together to protest gay pride. Our tour guide is happy we will be gone.