Tourism in Jerusalem reached record numbers over the holidays.
Some locations like Rachel Imenu Street were so crowded with visitors,
that the bus traffic was often hard to believe.
The Greek Consulate is located on this beautiful, tree-lined street, and with the Monday visit of the
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, there were more diplomatic cars parked outside than usual.
Did everyone else go home so he was the only visitor in Jerusalem?
No, on Friday in the Old City, the crowds were at times overwhelming.
While school boys in the Jewish Quarter played at recess,
thousands of international tourists shopped nearby in the Christian Quarter,
and tried to stay cool and hydrated in the heat.
Busloads of people came to see famous tourist sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
There was no media or security visible at the entrance to the Arab shuk.
Muslims, old and young, went to prayers
moving swiftly through the crowded path.
The roof tops
and basketball court in the Muslim Quarter were quiet,
while below, yeshiva students were inside learning.
Some signs welcomed all,
while others might not be so welcoming.
Many locations in the Old City were pleasant,
well-known and familiar,
but only a cat might want to hang out in a tree.
Many Israelis headed for the beach as temperatures rose to summer time heat wave levels,
but mid-day at Jaffa Gate people were coming and
going freely in spite of the heat.
Tuesday was the Second Annual Interfaith Ethics & Tolerance Symposium at the Jerusalem Ethics Center,
at the Konrad Adenauer Conference Center at Mishkenot Sha’ananim.
Director of the Anti-Defamation League Abraham Foxman was one of many speakers.
He told the crowded room that the world needs tolerance or as he prefers, respect for all religions…
Too bad he wasn’t one of the visitors last Friday in the Old City,
he would have seen the real Jerusalem streets on a regular Friday morning.