What a different week this has been! After Easter Monday, a holiday for many Christians, and the end of Passover, also on Monday and a national holiday in Israel, this town got comparatively quiet. We have heard occasional pilgrim groups these past days instead of the steady stream we had been hearing. There are fewer people in the streets, as well, as we navigate the Via Dolorosa for me to practice the organ each day. Our focus has shifted as well, from all that Lent, Holy Week, and Easter meant to things we want to see and do before we leave in a month.

An exception was today at the end of Friday prayers at the Dome of the Rock mosque. It took some time to get out the Damascus Gate! Fortunately,we were going with the predominant flow.

I am beginning to realize how much I will miss the Redeemer Lutheran church community as well as the physical compound. Playing the wonderful Schuke organ in the Romanesque-style Sanctuary has been soul-feeding and defining. Many from both the English and German speaking congregations have become dear to us. It will be hard to say good-bye.

We continue to attend lectures, going, for example, to two of three possible options last night. The one at the Albright institute was on Jeremiah and his view of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Albright really does have the best receptions before their lectures: delicious Middle Eastern style heavy hors d’oeurves, fruit and desserts with good wine and beer.

We then heard a journalist speak at the Swedish Study Center. She was one of a select few who saw the Tomb of Christ when it was uncovered for 60 hours during the restorations of the Edicule last fall. Very interesting and even moving! We went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre afterwards to look at some of the things she talked about, like the realization that these pillars and the wall behind them are from the Constantinian basilica of the 4th century! As with so many churches here, the Holy Sepulchre has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times.

We also attend presentations at Tantur Ecumenical Center and less often at Eccole Biblioque, if they are in English there. Each institution offers wonderful opportunities to hear world class scholars in very different settings, atmospheres, and with different audiences and levels of hospitality. We have thoroughly enjoyed the broad range of speakers, topics, and treats.

Among non-native English speakers, the word “welcome” is used a lot. Twice, we have had strangers stop us on the street, ask where we were from and say, “Welcome!” In that context, it means what you would expect it to mean. It had also been used to mean “thank you,” “I understand,” and “ha, ha,  I nderstand your joke.” We love hearing it.

A few more random pictures from our walks and wanderings: Bougenvia from the Yemen Moshe neighborhood, Golda Meir’s building where she had an apartment on the top floor, and flowers in the Imbal Hotel for Shabbat.

 

Shalom and good night.