July 3, 2014

Our first full day in Israel was spent taking a tour of the Old City. After visiting Hadassah Academic College for the first time and having some delicious falafel, we met up with our tour guide, Talya, and began walking towards the Jaffa Gate. As we were walking up to the walls that date back 800 years ago, encapsulating three very different, very conflicted religions, I was taken aback by their ability to live side by side given the immense differences that exist between not just their customs and beliefs, but between themselves. Before arriving at the Western Wall, the Islamic Call to Prayer commenced followed by the sound of the church bells chiming from the Christian Quarter. Once we made it to the Western Wall I was finally able to take in just how incredible the dedication was. Since arriving in Israel I have felt a desire to to get in touch with my Jewish heritage. I began feeling this way after being exposed to Israel’s strong sense of collectivity and community (as evidenced by the dancing and laughing at the Shabbat service we attended, among other things). The apparent significance that enjoying life has in this environment has proven to me how Judaism is such a beautifully centered religion. After entering the plaza I stood in front of the Western Wall, the last remnants of the Second Temple, taking in all of its complexity. The point of religious significance for three religions with very different religious pasts, this wall with notes tucked into its ever nook, emulated the idea of collective understanding.

 

— Hannah LifshutzPhoto on 7-5-14 at 9.35 AM

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