To start off, I am happy to report that my quest to look as non-American as possible must be working famously well. For the first time ever, in Israel or anywhere, I was searched, the entirety of my bag looked through, was glanced at quite a bit between the inspection of my bag, and so on. I can say that it was a very new experience for me. Immediately after I was given my bag back and allowed to enter the outdoor mall next to the Old City in Jerusalem, Dana went to go through security where the guard took her bag, glanced in, touched nothing, and allowed her right in. Our thoughts immediately after were... "yup, Jordana was just profiled". Now, of course, it may not have been as dramatic as I am making it seem, but it really was the first time that a search like that has ever happened to me, and with Dana's almost immediate entrance, it is a logical conclusion to draw. But hey, I'm not complaining at all! It means I'm really starting to blend in with the local population, which will be very nice when I am living in East Jerusalem. I don't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself, and outwardly displaying signs of Judaism or looking overwhelmingly American/European/touristy can do just that.
So now to why I was in Jerusalem. Every year in the Old City, at the Tower of King David (Migdal David), there is a light "spectacular" that is shown inside the courtyard. Before going into detail, I am obligating myself to say that this was probably one of the most fascinating, interesting, amazing, beautiful things I have done since coming to Israel. It was out of this world breathtaking, and I hope that everyone has the chance to experience this show if and when they visit Jerusalem. So what is this light spectacular? The attraction is comprised of two parts: An exhibit around the citadel, and a show that follows the viewing of the exhibit.
First, just to give you an idea of what the courtyard looks like, here is a picture of where we were in the daytime.
Now imagine it being the dead, dark of night with lights and projected images reflecting off of the stone walls to depict different eras of time in Jerusalem's history. The effect is mesmerizing.
The exhibit took us through most of the courtyard, and as we winded around towards the end, hundreds of chairs were set up directly in front of the North and East walls of the fortress (however, with my outstanding sense of direction we were probably in front of the South and West walls but the direction isn't all that important :-p). After all of the people were situated and settled into their seats, the big show began. I am sorry to report that photography wasn't allowed so I will do my best to convey the depth of the shows innovative genius and beauty, but if I can't adequately capture every phenomenal aspect with words, you will just have to get to Jerusalem to see it for yourselves :-).
At first the entire fortress went pitch black and all you could see was one reflected light image of a single dove flying over the stone walls of the enclosure. As the dove flew over every surface of the walls another image of the shadow of a woman playing a flute was show accompanied by the sounds of a gorgeous, haunting flute solo. Once the song had ended the entire fortress lit up, and with lights and reflected images and movies, we were shown the entire story of the creation, destruction, re-creation, and so on, of Jerusalem from the time of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), to the time of the First and Second Temple, to Ottoman, Roman, and Muslim conquest and rule of the city, to the British protectorate period. The combination of lights, video, effects, and music set on the walls of King David's courtyard inside of his tower in the Old City was astounding. I can truly say that I have never seen anything like it in my life.
As the presentation was ending, the walls were filled with lights reflecting different spellings of Jerusalem in, what looked like, hundreds of languages, the song "Shir Hamalot" was playing, and then all of the writing went away to make way for the words "Pray For Peace In Jerusalem" reflected on the highest wall of the Tower in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. It was extremely moving and powerful, and left you with a feeling of a renewed sense of hope that peace will come to this incredible region.
I truly can't describe how incredibly powerful being in the city of Jerusalem is. Even if you are not religious you can feel the presence of a Higher Being all around you. You are standing in the middle of hundreds and thousands of years of history that affected and was important to all three of the world's major monotheistic religions, and seeing a functioning integrated city in a region stricken with religious and ethnic strife and conflict, is proof in itself that there must be God. There never has been, nor ever will be, a city as special as Jerusalem في كل العلم (in the whole world).
It was a wonderful evening trip into the Ancient City, and only further amplified my already extreme excitement to move there in 7 days. To end I feel it only appropriate to offer my prayers and desires for the continuation of a united Jerusalem, prayers for continued strength of one of the most historically significant and important cities in the world, and prayers for peace, acceptance, and coexistence in this holiest of holy places.
Shabbat Shalom <3,