Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Temple Mount

Temple Mount
My belief was that in order to go to the Temple Mount, you had to be Muslim. During my visit to Jerusalem in 1998, I started to walk up to the Temple Mount and was physically restrained by a Muslim cleric who shouted at me, "Only Muslim go here!"

However, I recently read a story about a bunch of rabbis who went up to the Temple Mount last month on Jerusalem Day. With the recent flotilla violence, the Temple Mount was closed to visitors by the Israeli government. The question is, how about now? Is the Temple Mount open to visitors now?

Today I'm going to visit the access way to the Temple Mount which I believe is to the right of the Wailing Wall in order to find out what's what.

Note: You may read about the Temple Mount [here].

Minimum wage in Israel
I've posted some examples of prices here in Israel. Readers wondered how Israelis can afford these prices? A couple of days ago while in the mall area near Ben Yehuda Street, I went into a gelataria to buy a cup of high quality gelato. A tiny cup cost 17 shekels $4.25US.

I asked one of the girls behind the counter what the minimum wage is in Israel. She said that it is 21 shekels per hour $5.35US. She told me that she is paid the minimum 21 shekels/hour. I asked her, "Can you afford to buy gelato here?" "Yes" she told me. "But it is expensive for me."

In the pic below is a girl who works at Homes Burger inside the Central Bus Station. She earns 22 shekels per hour. The burger meal that I bought there cost 47 shekels $12US. The girl needs to work over two hours in order to pay for this meal.

47 shekel $12US burger meal

12 Noon - Bus to Wailing Wall
My bus seat was one of those where there are two seats facing another two seats. When I sat down the people there were speaking Spanish. It is the first time I heard Spanish in Israel. When I smiled at a funny story told, one of the women asked, "Habla espanol?" [Do you speak Spanish?].

This family is from Venezuela and made Aliyah, the return of Jews to Israel [link]. They have only been living in Israel for a few months, and barely speak any Hebrew. The Aliyah program provides them with subsidized housing and free Hebrew instruction. Today they were coming to pray at the Western Wall. It was their first trip there, and they were very excited about that.
Aliyah family from Venezuela

Ramp to the Temple Mount
Today I entered the Old City at the Dung Gate, only a few hundred meters from the Western Wall. At first I did not see the wood ramp that goes up to the Temple Mount, even though it was in plain sight before me! Then I saw it, and Little Mavicita captured the pic below.

I asked some policemen if it was permitted to go up this ramp? And it is! Then I asked some soldiers guarding the Western Wall entrance the same question, to confirm. The ramp to the Temple Mount is open from 7:30am to 11am, Sunday thru Thursday.

I am soooooo excited about learning about this ramp! When I will up is a question? Whether to go up perhaps tomorrow, or wait until Son Joe arrives in Jerusalem. Maybe I will do both!
Ramp to Temple Mount
Just to the right of the Wailing Wall

Gershon wears tefillin
In the pic below, you see me wearing my first tefillin. After I prayed at the Western Wall, I walked by the "Chabad at Kotel" stand where a member asked me if I would like to wear tefillin. The wearing of the tefillin is a commandment in the Torah [link].

This very nice young man who spoke English, wound the tefillin strap on my left arm and on my head. My parents were reform Jews, and did not hold with wearing Tefillin. For me this was a moving Western Wall experience. When my room mate [who is also named Gershon] asked if I was now going to begin to wear tefillin according to Torah law, I replied, "Probably not".
Wearing tefillin
At the Western Wall