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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Israel Diary - Friday

Friday morning, I signed up for a tour of Kever Rachel, Hevron and Maarat Hamachpelah. I got up super early, after not much sleep, and made my way to the place where I was meeting the tour. About 20 of us got into a bus lined with extra-thick windows. Our tour guide was a man who lives in Hevron and had fascinating stories to tell about living there. We rode up to Kever Rachel and were told that we couldn't go in. Some kind of security issues going on, they refused to divulge exactly what. So our tour guide decided to take us to Hevron first, with a return trip to Kever Rachel on the way back, hoping that we would be allowed in then. We drove through the hills, passing Efrat, Gush Etzion, and a number of other beautiful communities on our way to Hevron. When we got to Hevron, our tour guide pointed out the separation between the Arab and Jewish sections of Hevron. We got out and walked around in a few places in the city, our tour guide telling us stories about each site. He told us about how a lot of the housing was built, about the murder of Shalhevet Pass, an eight-month-old baby who was killed by Arab snipers and the aftermath of the incident in which a tribute was erected in her honor. Our tour guide even named his next daughter after her. After being shown around the Jewish sections of Hevron, we made our way to the Maarat Hamachpelah (that's the tomb where our forefathers and mothers are buried). Half of this site is reserved for the Arabs, and as we were standing outside, waiting to go in, a loud Muslim chant was blasted over the loudspeakers at us. The funny thing was, it kind of put me in the mindset for prayer. We walked into the shul set up above the tombs (no one is exactly sure who is buried exactly where, but they estimate and put rooms above for people to daven in). There was definitely a powerful feeling there, and I sat down in the room designated as Yacov and Leah's resting place and said a lot of tehillim. I then ventured across the hall and said a few tehillim in Avraham and Sarah's room also. Before finishing, I lit a candle and gave some tzedakah, hoping that the flame would bring some light to my life. After leaving Hevron, we rode again to Kever Rachel. This time, after a bit of debate, we were allowed in, but only for 15 minutes, as we had to get back in time for Shabbos. The road up to Kever Rachel was lined with huge fences, it was a little intimidating. There was definitely a charge in the air. I went into the shul part to daven mincha, said a few more tehillim, and then it was time to go. We rode back to Jerusalem a couple hours before Shabbos. "Only in Israel" story of the day - I got on a bus to go back to my friend's apartment, rather than walking since Shabbos was getting close. All I had was a large bill, but thankfully the bus drivers have plenty of change. As I was standing on the bus, waiting for my change, the bus driver introduced himself and told me his name. Being friendly, I told him my name as well. He then asked me for my phone number as told me that we could be friends. He told me that he lived in Tel Aviv, and again asked for my number. I explained that I was leaving in a couple days and I didn't think it would be a good idea. Apparently, I am much more attractive to Israeli guys than American ones, it's rare I get asked for my number randomly here! I got back to my friend's apartment and got ready for Shabbos, watching the sunset and Shabbos come in over Jerusalem.

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