We were based in Jerusalem, which was fabulous. The first morning we were at the Shrine of the Book, home of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
After driving around the outside of the city to get a sense of the geography, we went in through David’s gate and made our way to what seemed like a perfectly nice little restaurant for lunch and a study session. But when I turned my head, I was startled by the view:
Yes, that’s the Dome of the Rock, the big golden dome that pretty much defines Jerusalem in terms of images, and yes, it was right there. I kept snapping pictures of all the other gorgeous landmarks, but I kept coming back to it.
After lunch we made our way down to the Kotel (the Western wall, the only remaining part of the original holy Temple Mount).
I found myself approaching slowly, not quite sure what to think. Certainly didn’t have any specific prayer in mind. I just tried to keep myself open to the place and the moment…I let thoughts of my patients flow through me, offering up generic prayers for health and healing. Above all, I just thought, “Peace.”
I stepped all the way up. Next to me was a slightly older woman, both hands and one cheek flat against the cold stones, sobbing softly. Without quite understanding why, I teared up as well. It’s a powerful place.
Later, after I backed away slowly, reluctantly, we noticed a group of Korean girls clustered beneath the flagpole in the middle of the plaza. To our amazement, they began singing Hatikvah. Turns out they were a choir group on tour. Talk about magical.
But in a way, the magic was just beginning. Archaeologists have excavated along the Western wall all the way to the end of the Temple Mount, and we got to go in and see. The most amazing part was our guide, an ex-pat whose English was perfect, and who literally acted out the history of the Temple Mount for us. Her name was Batya Davis, and you don’t just listen to her, you experience her.
All in all, a powerful, packed first day.