Thoughts on being called ‘Brave’ for visiting Israel
The only thing I was terrified of, when I decided I was going to visit Israel was the security while leaving the country. Apparently they asked too many questions, emptied your bags, messed it a lot.
Being a stickler for organized stuff and being usually awkward, that was not a good feeling.
I do not like strangers messing my stuff.
Not once did thoughts like ‘What if there’s a nasty episode, like the one shown on TV?’ cross my mind.
I went with a clean slate…to write my own interpretations.
All my parents said to me was ‘Stay safe, keep in touch, pray for everybody’. I was visiting the Holy Land after all. Maybe that was why they didn’t nag. Unsure if it would be the same for other countries. Still to test that.
Sunny skies and long immigration queues greeted us. I asked the immigration officer not to stamp my passport. He suspiciously asked “Why do you ask that?”
Caught off guard, I said “Just like that!”
After silence for a couple of minutes we were on our way to Jerusalem.
The place where the dead will arise first when the Messiah comes, the place where the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven as did Prophet Muhammad.
It looked like a blend of a Middle-eastern and a European city and it was definitely a developed city.
It was almost sunset and our ‘Sherut’ (a shared mini-van) snaked it’s way to the top. I glimpsed Jews wearing their traditional attire, hats included. I glimpsed vendors trying to make a sale.
Children ran along the streets and soldiers in military attire, guns included, shared tea and snacks.
I dragged my luggage to the hostel. On the way I was stopped by a guy who winked at me and tried to convince me his store had the best liquor. I laughed my head off and he was taken aback at my reaction. I told him all I needed was a shower and then maybe I’d come back to have a chat with him.
After getting refreshed, I headed off to Abraham Hostel for a party. Yes, a party. People in Jerusalem know how to party.
It was utter mayhem. People making hummus. People drinking. People dancing. People sharing stories from around the world. There was good music. It was eclectic.
After mingling around for a while I decided to call it a day.
It was past midnight.
Tipsy, we slowly traipsed uphill back to the hostel. It was Sunday night and while Sunday nights are dead silent here in the UK (everyone dreads Monday) it was quite the opposite on the streets in Jerusalem.
Some stores were open. Music drifted from the clubs. Many others like us were wearily walking back home. Some were sharing a falafel.
Although I slept peacefully, I continued to hear conversations and the noise of trams throughout the night. It seemed that about 5 am everyone finally made their way back home (or to work!)
The city was bustling in the morning.
Trams were filled to capacity. Children were being dragged to school. Some great clothes were on display in the stores.
We headed to Jaffa Gate and made our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
My eyes were brimming. It was a very emotional moment, about which I shall write more later. After spending some time at the Church, we headed to the Western Wall.
People were crying. People were lost in prayer. Children recited from the Torah. They smiled and nodded as I touched my head against the wall.
It wasn’t any different at the Dome of the Rock. People were lost in prayer here too, feeling blessed to be present at such a Holy site.
We made our way back to Jaffa gate and had a salad and a pizza. Kosher and tasty.
It had been a day like any other, although it wasn’t.
I was in an ‘unsafe’ city.
A city that was filled with history and culture, where life continued as normal. Not once did I feel any more safer than I ever have anyplace else. Not once did I feel out of place.
Where the sun shone brightly and made me feel all warm and happy.
I had more fun than I have had in a long time. I ate and I partied.
Was I ‘Brave’?
I made an attempt to see a place for myself and have my own perceptions. I ran away from cloudy skies to catch some sun. I immersed myself in the most historically rich place I have ever been.
Would you call that being ‘Brave’?
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