from Jerusalem, Israel.
The Nine Days leading up to Tisha B’Av
are always hot, unless you live in Southern Hemisphere.
This year was no exception,
unless you count hotter than usual temperatures.
Jerusalem, Israel, is known for its cooler evenings,
but the night of Tisha B’Av stayed warm and humid.
In spite of the uncomfortable weather, thousands ventured out
to sit on the stones and streets to hear a reading of
Eichah, the Book of Lamentations.
At Gan Ha’atzmaut, Independence Park,
this woman sat on a bollard to listen,
while this policeman sat on the ground.
I have joined the Walk around the Walls since 2011,
security threats seem to be an annual feature of this event.
With the recent murders and riots on Temple Mount,
the walk only got permission to proceed at the last minute.
It was hard to get the long line of participants into one photo.
As we approached the Damascus Gate,
the location of many recent troubles,
the Arab media was waiting to record the marchers.
Police on horses were ready
as the crowd proceed along with Israeli flags.
A few stopped to rest near Damascus Gate,
just before the steps came into view.
This year Tisha B’Av fell after Ramadan
and the Damascus Gate was quiet.
This is the only time all year
that I walk by this gate
and around it to capture the dramatic night views on this side of wall,
on the way to the Lion’s Gate.
This was the scene of Muslims worshipers
filling the streets and rioting and being controlled by the police.
However, hundreds of Jews filled the same streets
and sat late into the night on the stones peacefully listening
to the Women in Green’s list of speakers.
Continuing around the walls and entering through Dung Gate,
one sees the huge stones that have remained over the centuries
at the base of the wall,
reminders of the ancient destruction of Jerusalem.
On to the Kotel, the Western Wall,
where thousands gathered, to sit, to mourn,
even to spend the night on the ground.
People were arriving throughout the night.
The gilded of Dome of the Rock,
built over the foundation stone, glimmered above the Kotel lights.
Jerusalem, city of peace, has seen many rulers
and thousands of years of conflict.
This year passed quietly,
the only words one heard on the walk around the walls were
“תודה – Thank you!” over and over,
to the police and security personnel guarding along the route.
The lights on the Old City streets were dimmed
for Tisha B’av night,
but the large Temple Menorah glowed brightly.
It has been a hot and tense week
in Jerusalem, Israel.
On my visit to the Old City
I had to go through metal detectors.
They are at every entrance to the Western Wall Plaza.
These metal detectors have been in place for years
and they have not been removed.
Millions have passed through metal detectors,
often after waiting for long periods of time in line,
with no riots that I know of.
Last week during a heat wave,
while Muslims were protesting and rioting,
a group of African tourists came to the Kotel,
the Western Wall, as on any other regular day.
Over Jerusalem’s 3,000 year history,
it has been built and destroyed and rebuilt,
which is evident in the multiple layers found underground.
Notice the white fence in background of above photo?
Behind it archaeologists have carried out this excavation.
Dig down. You will find more history revealed.
While on the streets security was tense,
below in the Western Wall Tunnels
we saw a model of how the Second Temple
was constructed on a flat base over the foundation stone.
Thousands of people have come to see the tunnels.
Constant discoveries are being revealed,
such as a mikvah, ritual bath,
from the time of King Herod.
One large room shows multiple layers of stones
from various conquerors of Jerusalem over the centuries.
Jerusalem has so much history hidden under your feet.
Under what was once a parking lot near the Old City Walls
is today an excavation revealing what lay beneath the pavement.
Ir David, the City of David,
has posters for a new night-time show,
to be held in its new seating area.
The City of David is located just outside the walls of Old City.
This layer of blackened, destroyed homes
has been carbon dated to the time of the fall of the First Temple.
My friend got down to get a close up,
but I was more fascinated by this idol,
perhaps left over from the escape from Egypt,
which was found in the ruins.
So many coins and treasures, and history,
are hidden under these streets.
One day this street will be a major attraction.
The “stepped street” has not been open to the public.
It is the route of the ancient pilgrims bringing offerings
to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem,
and one day is to be
the new entrance to the Kotel, the Western Wall.
From the top of the Aish HaTorah building
we see above the Western Wall Plaza.
On the right is the Mughrabi Bridge,
the only entrance for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount,
where you will note,
security cameras are still very much in place.
Al-Aqsa Mosque was quiet that day,
though the calls to Muslim prayers filled the air.
Past a model of the Second Temple,
one can see the gold paint of the Dome of the Rock.
You may see photos of rioting on the streets,
but under the streets history is also unfolding.
Sometimes what you can not see is more encouraging
that what is happening above.