Jerusalem Tour / by Susie Lubell

Armenian Quarter, Jerusalem
Window, Armenian Quarter

We had a day off from school yesterday for a holiday called Lag B'Omer which at its best is an occasion to have a bonfire and sing songs and roast hot dogs and marshmallows (at its worst its pyromaniacs and thieves wreaking environmental havoc). It celebrates the 33rd day of the Omer, a period of time between Passover, liberation from Egypt, and Shavuot, receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. It's treated as a period of mourning when religious men don't shave and you can't get married etc. Except on the 33rd day, which was yesterday, when you can get married and many people do, including Mr. Rosen's parents (in fact, once we went to three weddings in two days. No joke).

The 33rd day is the day that Jewish mystics say the Kabballah was revealed (apropos Madonna's upcoming concert in Tel Aviv) and also commemorates the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire when a bunch of Jews fought for an independent states which lasted two years until they were eventually crushed. Anyway, we light big fires now to remember how Bar Kokhba and his warriors communicated back in the day and kids also make bows and arrows and homemade pita on the taboon. I wrote about it a few years ago here.

So I met up with some friends in Jerusalem for the day and we soaked up the magic. We did our usual walkabout through Jaffa Gate to the Arab market, the Christian quarter, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Western Wall, the Armenia quarter and the Tower of David, stopping for lunch at Lina's, my favorite hole in the wall humus restaurant. It was a beautiful day and the kids were only a little bit bored and cranky. They tried to stage their own Bar Kokhba style revolt but we squashed it with ice-cream, Roman army style and order was restored in the land. It got a little tricky explaining about Jesus and the cross as depicted in the gory mosaic inside the church. That's kind of the stuff of nightmares. But the kids took it in and were soon distracted by stuffed camels and belly dancer costumes.

Ceramics, Armenia Quarter
Ceramic dishes at Elie's, the only seller who posts his prices.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Mosaic, Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Christian Quarter, Jerusalem
Prayer beads, Christian Quarter

Seventh station
Seventh Station on the Via Dolorosa

Bedouin textiles, Arab market
Bedouin textiles, Muslim Quarter

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock, View from the Jewish Quarter

Direction of Mecca, 16th century
Incription at the Tower of David pointing to Mecca, 16th century

Western Wall, taken by my son
Western Wall prayers, taken by my son.

Ice cream break, Jewish quarter
Ice-cream break, troops replenished.