We finally made it to Jerusalem! For a quick geography reference, our guest house, Dormitian Church, and the Upper Room (as well as King David’s tomb which we will discuss later) are all on Mount Zion. This is the hill outside of the south wall of the Old City, which happens to be one kilometer square.
Sunday morning, we took a bus from Emmaus to our guest house at St. Peter’s, then we went straight to celebrate Pentacost mass at the Dormition church nearby. (This is the church where Mary was believed to have been Assumed!) It was beautiful because we also got to see ten young people of different nationalities getting confirmed, so the mass was said in a few languages. When the Our Father was prayed, the Archbishop (yes, we were in good clerical company) had everybody speak in their native tongue, and there were probably 10 different languages. We all understood what the others were saying, and there may as well have been tongues of fire for how strong the Holy Spirit felt in that moment. But it didn’t stop there. After Mass, we walked around the block to the Upper Room where both the Last Supper and Pentecost itself were believed to have happened. To simplify: we broke bread and experienced confirmation at the nearest Catholic Mass to where the first renditions of these two events actually happened!
In the afternoon, we walked around the wall to the Jewish neighborhood north of the Old City. We had three Jews, Yehuda, Dave and Hannah, share with us aspects of their lives that helped us better understand the Jewish culture and religion. Yehuda showed us around a small synagogue in a touristy neighborhood. We learned that synagogues are smaller replicas of Solomon’s Temple that now serve as smaller “parish” style places of prayer. Three times every day, the Torah is read from scrolls that are stored in a tabernacle of sorts. After that, we went to the house of Dave and Hannah, close friends of Father Anthony. Hannah showed us around their neighborhood and discussed many aspects of historical places and people before taking us to the shuk (aka the Jewish market). In the shuk, we got to sample fresh foods in assorted shops: bread, nuts, spices, smoothies, and a sesame seed purée that could be compared to peanut butter. When we were done buying supplies to feed ourselves for the next day, Hannah took us back home where we spoke with her husband Dave about some Jewish teachings of their Torah and other books that fill in the blanks of Old Testament stories. For example, these books talk about Adam and Eve being buried in Hebron where we will visit tomorrow.