Jerusalem: Inside the Old City Walls

Following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948,  Old City Jerusalem was captured by Jordan, and the Jewish residents were evicted.

Nineteen years later on June 5, 1967, Israel was surrounded by enemies says Steven Pressfield in The lion’s gate: on the front lines of the Six-Day War, “The Soviet-equipped Egyptian Army had massed a thousand tanks on the nation’s southern border. Syrian heavy guns were shelling her from the north. To the East, Jordan and Iraq were moving mechanized brigades and fighter squadrons into position to attack.

Egypt’s President Nasser declared that the Arab force’s objective is ‘the destruction of Israel.’  The rest of the world turned a blind eye to the new nation’s desperate peril.

By June 10, 1967, the Arab armies have been routed, ground divisions wiped out, air forces totally destroyed. Israel’s citizen-soldiers have seized the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. The land under Israeli control has tripled. Her charismatic defense minister, Moshe Dayan, has entered the Lion’s Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem to stand with the paratroopers who have liberated Judaism’s holiest site-the Western Wall, part of the ruins of Solomon’s temple, which has not been in Jewish hands for nineteen hundred years. It is one of the most unlikely and astonishing military victories in history.”

Changing borders

Changing borders

From: http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/8f/da/23/8fda238e8c9210992e7aa99c24516cde.jpg

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem, a walled area of a 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi) is within the modern city of Jerusalem.  Today the Israeli government mainly controls the area, which it considers part of its national capital, but Jews are not allowed by the Palestinian Authority to visit some places holy to the Muslims within the city walls; internationally the Old City is considered part of occupied Palestinian Territory.   However today, Jews, Christians, and Muslims can visit sites very precious to each religion: for Muslims, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque; for Jews, the Temple Mount and Western Wall, and for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  In 1981, Old City Jerusalem was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Within Jerusalem Old City Walls.

Within the  Old City Walls of Jerusalem.

From – http://wikitravel.org/upload/en/7/70/Map_jerusalem_oldcity.png

As of 2007, the total population within the walls was 36,965; by religion, 27,500 Muslims, 5,681 Christians,  3,089 Jews, and  790 Armenians. [4]Wikipedia}

At the Lion Gate xxx - after prayers on Friday - lots of Muslims coming from the Dome of the Rock xxx

At Lion’s  Gate – after prayers  many Muslims coming from  mosques in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City Jerusalem.

At the gate next to the new gate xxx More Muslims coming from prayers.

At New Gate – Muslims coming from prayers.

On a Friday early afternoon, as Barry and I walked down from the Mount of Olives toward  Old City Jerusalem, we saw thousands of Muslims, mainly men and boys,  leaving through the gates of the Old City.   Buses had brought some – perhaps from Jordan or other nearby communities. One friendly Muslim man suggested that Barry and I go to a cafe and wait until most of the men left before making our way into the Old City.  However, we kept walking (and saw more Muslims than I’ve ever seen in one place).

Small stalls sell to the temple goers.

Small street stalls selling to those leaving the mosques.

Muslim couple

Muslim couple

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.  Photo - by Barry

A Muslim girl in Jerusalem.
Photo – by Barry

A Muslim girl surrounded by a sea of men.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

Muslim men after prayers in Jerusalem.

We felt safe - but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military we saw.

We felt safe – but these two young Israeli soldiers were the only military or police we saw.

The Dome of the Rock - the temple sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed.  The Muslims pray at their temple, (the gold dome was paid for by King Hussein xxx.

The Dome of the Rock – the mosque sacred to Muslims and the site of the Jewish temples before they were destroyed. The gold dome was paid for by Jordan’s King Hussein.

The Jews, who feel they are not holy enough to pray at the site of their first two temples and the place where man was created, go to the remnant of the Western Wall (“The Wailing Wall”) of the Second Temple.

Near the Wailing Wall of the Old City, Jerusalem.  Jewish boys and their teachers.

Near the Western Wall of the Old City Jerusalem. Jewish boys and their teachers.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

A Jewish woman, who gave us blessings (because we gave her money) near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock xx

Neil, our great guide, explaining the succession of holy places built, destroyed, and then rebuilt at what is now the Muslim Dome of the Rock.

The Second Holy Jewish Temple (between 516 BCE and 70 CE), replaced the First Temple, destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jews went into exile.  Jewish belief is that the Second Temple will in turn be replaced by a future Third Temple after the Messiah comes.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish second temple - now known as the Wailing Wall or Western Wall.

The remnant of the wall from the Jewish Second Temple –  “The Wailing Wall” that is now known as the Western Wall.

Women at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Women praying – and leaving wishes – at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Jewish men at the Wailing Wall.

Jewish men at the Western Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a Bar Mitzva xx on the men's side of the Wailing Wall.

Women hanging over the separating barrier to watch a bar mitzva on the men’s side of the Western Wall.

Jewish men and women have access to the Western Wall, although at different sections.

The women prayed too.

The women praying – at the Western Wall.

Coming from prayers

Coming from prayers

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they can have a good time any where.

Kids dancing on a metal grate near the Western Wall; they have a good time everywhere.

Birds flying near the Western Wall.

Birds flying above the Western Wall.

The Temple Mount area above; below, the Western Wall.

Police presence is very discreet.  This is one of the only times I saw a mass of law enforcement officers - near the Wailing Wall.

Police presence is very discreet. This is the only time I saw a mass of law enforcement officers.

In the Old City streets –

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago - and still don't have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower.  These Jewish girls want to help.

The Jewish bride and her family had been evicted from their home nine years ago – and don’t have enough money to give the daughter a bridal shower. These Jewish girls want to help.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Lots of small business entrepreneurs.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, Danny, & Ruth.

Inside Jaffa Gate, Jerusalem, with Barry, and good friends Danny, & Ruth.

It seems that everyone has a presence within the Old City wall.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Lists of the Catholic & Protestant Churches and Muslim Mosques inside the Old City Jerusalem.

The Swedish Christian

The Swedish Christian Center.

Christ Church, Anglican inside the Old City, Jerusalem

Christ Church- the oldest Protestant Church (Anglican) in the Middle East – inside the Old City Jerusalem

The Greek Orthodox and the Arab Orthodox Centerxx

The Greek Orthodox Patriachate and the Cultural Centre & Museum, Arab Orthodox Society of Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Scplacure xx- many Christian pilgrims

Church of the Holy Sepulchre – perhaps the most sacred of Christian sites.

Within the Christian Quarter of the Old City is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,  venerated for its last  four  Stations of the Cross, the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, his burial, and resurrection.   Christian pilgrims have been coming here since the 4th century.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Christian pilgrims

Christian pilgrims

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

P1050701

Today, the church is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Orthodox Christians

Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is controlled by Greek Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, & Roman Catholics under complicated arrangements.

Besides coming to Jerusalem for the religious and historical significance, many come to shop.

Many things to buy inside the Old City, Jerusalem.

Many things to buy inside  Old City Jerusalem

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

The Nigerians are the biggest shoppers in Jerusalem!

Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market.  They had been taking photos with their iPhones.   Modern Muslim girls in the Jerusalem market. They had been taking photos with their iPhones.  🙂

Everyone is there: Jews, Christian backpackers, xx.  Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face? xx

Everyone is here: Orthodox Jews, Christian backpackers,  secular people. Can you find the woman with a hijab covering her face?

For some, the Old City is their home.

School girls

For some, Old City, Jerusalem is their home.

Old City Jerusalem is divided into four unequal sections: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, and the Christian Quarter.

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Welcome to the Jewish Quarter

Jewish man

Jewish man

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Jewish man coming from prayers.

Near the Wailing Wall - pizza and prayers

Near the Wailing Wall – pizza and prayers

The Fiedler Family's mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

The Fiedler Family’s mailbox in the Jewish Quarter.

Bagel anyone?

Bagel anyone?

Snacks of  humus, shackshuka, lahme bahagin . . .

Snacks of humus,
shakshouka, lahme bahagin . . .

You can find wonderful Middle Eastern food within the Old City walls.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

Stop for coffee in open plazas within Old City Jerusalem.

And if you don’t have money, the Jewish Chabad provides free meals near the Western Wall.

P1050821

Come explore.

Come explore.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

The doors are open within Old City Jerusalem.

Old City Jerusalem is waiting for you.

And what’s outside Old City Jerusalem?  That report is coming soon.

Shalom, Renée

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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

2 responses to “Jerusalem: Inside the Old City Walls”

  1. pardonn2 says :

    So beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this article and viewing the magnificent pictures that amazed me. May peace be in our holy lands.

    • reneeriley says :

      Hi, Pardonn2: Thanks for reading this blog and commenting. It is a most beautiful place. May peace spread everywhere and include everyone. Aloha, Renée

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