Hannah and Je together

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fifty Fifth Day – Rachael’s Tomb

Beginning of last week, the teacher told us that the final term exam would be on Wednesday, but today, she changed her word and we took the exam today.  The other students were a bit mad but I was OK because I know one day would not make any difference to me.

After class, I wanted to visit the Rachael’s tomb.  When I googled a few days ago, one of the result webpage said that the Israel Authority would not allow anyone to walk there, so I must use a vehicle.  But I just thought I would try.

Dumb boys doing dumb things

Dumb boys doing dumb things

So after the class, I walked to the Checkpoint because the Rachael’s tomb is the other side of the separation wall.  When I was walking on the Hebron road near the separation wall (checkpoint was still far), I saw about twenty boys were on the road.  They looked like middle school students.  They put a lot of garbage and stones on the road and blocked the traffic, and they were yelling at the cars when they tried to pass.  I was just walking on the sidewalk, and when I almost passed them, suddenly the boys came to me and pushed me roughly, yelling something I don’t understand.  Someone told me later that the boys were protesting against Israel.  But I don’t get it.  How can it be a protest against Israel when they block the traffic illegally with bunch of garbage and stones on the pavement, and yelling at the drivers?  All the drivers are Palestinians because this is Area A where no Israelis present.  And how can it be a Protest against Israel when they yelling at and threatening a foreign tourist?  Bunch of adults were on the sidewalk in front of their shops, but nobody tried to stop the boys bullying a tourist.  The boys got more and more rough with they pushing, and I reached my limit, so I thought I would kick and punch, and beat a few of them.

Nostalgic Tear Gas

Nostalgic Tear Gas

At that time, I heard two familiar sounds – the shooting of the tear gas.  I was protesting a lot when I was college student in South Korea, so I am very familiar with tear gas.  With the hat that Hannah bought me in Chicago, I look very much like a tourist even from afar.  And the Israeli soldier on the watch tower saw me surrounded by the angry Palestinian boys, and they shot two tear gas cans towards me and the boys.  The Palestinians boys all ran away in a blink.  When I looked up the Israeli watch tower on the separation wall, the soldier waved at me.  And his waving made it clear that he shot the tear gas for me.  What I do not understand is where the hack are the Palestinian police officers?  They are responsible for the safety and the order of the society in Area A.

When I finally walked to the Israeli checkpoint, I met Hamdi, the father of the hosting family.  So he became my guide in the checkpoint.  The walking checkpoint was huge, and it is like a maze.  But I was OK because I was with him.  Even though he has a Israel entering permit, he cannot drive there.  So he parked near the checkpoint, and cross there walking, and get a bus after the checkpoint.  While George Filmon, McCormick’s January tour guide, can drive both sides because he is an Israeli Palestinian.

After the checkpoint, there is an initial gate for the Rachael’s tomb.  There were two girl soldiers, and they told me that they cannot let me walk in because it is dangerous.  I asked them if I had to get a bus or taxi here (there is a Egged bus from Jerusalem Central Bus Station coming to the Rachael’s tomb).  The girls were very kind and nice to me, so I also told them that they are cute and pretty.  They became so happy, and we talked and laughed about ten minutes.  Then there was a car coming.  The girls stopped the car, and let them give me a ride.

Gender Separated Entrance

Gender Separated Entrance

After we got there, I asked them if they want me to pay for the ride, and they answer me back, “English No.”  So I didn’t pay.  And before I went inside, I asked a lady in front of the building if it is the Rachael’s tomb just to make sure of it.  And she did not understand, so I said “Rachael’s tomb” a few times and very slowly.  Then she asked me back, “Bathroom?”  Then I thought that the Rachael’s tomb must be “Kaber Ra-hel” in Hebrew, and that was right.  And of course, the entrance is separated by Warriors and Women.

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael's Tomb

Inside the Synagogue of Rachael’s Tomb

There were lots of Jewish people wearing the thick black coat, and a Jewish guy wearing casual with just kipa guided me and took the pictures of me there.

Rachael's Coffin

Rachael’s Coffin

This is the actual (but no evident except tradition) tomb or coffin of Rachael, the beloved wife of Jacob or Israel.  Even though Jacob loved Rachael more, I think God loved Leah more.  After all, she is the mother of tribe of Judah, and the grandmother of Jesus and David.  And she is buried with her husband while Rachael is lying alone.

Toward Jerusalem

Toward Jerusalem

One common thing of Islam and Judaism is that they always tell the direction, and pray towards there – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Jews.

Parking lot

Parking lot

This is the parking lot at the Rachael’s tomb.  The pavement on the right of the picture leads to the bigger parking lot.  The other day I complained about the shape of the separation wall when I visited the Palestinian side of the separation wall.  And I realised that was for the Rachael’s tomb.  No Palestinians are allowed to the Rachael’s tomb.  I got another ride back to the gate.  The kind Jewish guy helped me to get a ride too.  When I got to the gate, the two girls were still there, and we talked and laughed a little more.  Then I walked back home from the checkpoint, taking about hour and forty minutes.  When I told my hosting family that I walked from the checkpoint, they were very surprised and told me that they’ve never seen anyone walking that distance.

Is it mosquito or what?

Is it mosquito or what?

I posted two photos of my leg and foot with the (mosquito) bites.  Since that day, I used the electronic mosquito repellent, but still I get lots of fresh bites.  And when I was writing this blog, I felt my arm bitten, and caught this.  Is it a mosquito?  It is very small – a quarter size of the mosquitoes in Chicago.  Maybe that is why they can come through the bug screen on the window.  But two more nights in this house, and a night at the airport.  So I will be OK.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Israel Trip Ninth Day: Hebron

Today was kind of lecture day. We had three speakers in a day: one from religious Jewish, one from Christian group, and another from Muslim Imam.

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

When I’ve got up in the morning, I went out to the balcony and took this picture – the Bethlehem from the hotel.

Machbelah Cave(?)

Machbelah Cave(?)

And we went to Machbelah in Hebron. Machbelah is the burial cave originally Abraham bought for his wife Sarah. All the most important three generations of Patriarchs with their wives are buried here (by tradition). The only exception is Rachael as you know from the Bible.

헤롯과 그 이후 시대의 막벨라 벽

Machbelah of Herodian and after era

This tomb building is built by Herod. Even though Herod is cruel and did many bad things, there are so many things he left. The stone are recognised by its distinctive frame pattern. The upper part is built by Mamluk.

Machbelah Mosque

Machbelah Mosque

This site is fourth most holy place for Muslims, and before Israeli government came, it was of course Muslim’s. When Israeli army came, they divided it into two sections; one for Muslim, and the other for Jewish. This is muslim side mosque.

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Just like other mosques, this one is so beautiful too. About the division, Abraham and Sarah are shared by both sides. They both can see it only though the caged windows. Muslims have Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Jews have Jacob and his wife Leah. Jews got what really matters to them because Jacob is the top common ancestor and is exclusive to them. But for the Muslims, Isaac is not the most important person, but Ishmael.

Prayer towards Mecca

Prayer towards Mecca

As I already wrote in previous posting, you will know where is the direction towards mecca in any mosque.

Sarah's tomb

Sarah’s tomb

When you go into the muslim side of the Machbelah, the very first you would see is Sarah.

Rebecca’s tomb

Rebecca’s tomb

Then inside the mosque, you can see the Rebecca next.

Isaac's tomb

Isaac’s tomb

Isaac is by Rebecca but little bit further.

Abraham's tomb

Abraham’s tomb

If you turn around, then you can see the Abraham.

In front of the Machbelah

In front of the Machbelah

We came out of the muslim side, and some of us went into the Jewish section. We must have gone without our local guide because even though he is Christian, the Israeli soldiers did not let him through. It is very stupid. They know he is law-abiding good citizen and just a tour guide. As you can see in the picture, Hebron and around the Machbelah area is very tensed and so many soldiers and military vehicles are always circling around.

Leah's tomb

Leah’s tomb

In the Jewish section, there is partition and writing “Women” in hebrew. The closer side which is right is Abraham and Sarah. The farther side which is the room on the left is their grandson. When you stepped into the room, Leah is on the right, and Jacob is on the left.

Jacob's tomb

Jacob’s tomb

There is no English signs at all either muslim or Jewish side. In the muslim section, local guide read us the Arabic. In the Jewish side, I was able to recognise the Hebrew names.

Christian Peacemaker Team

Christian Peacemaker Team

Then we went to the Christian Peacemaker Team whose office is in old town Hebron. They have a lot of difficulties working for the persecuted Palestinians, and even one of them were killed. But they still standing on their ground and working, sacrificing for others.

View of Hebron

View of Hebron

This is the Hebron view from the Christian Peacemaker Team office.

Kia Hebron

Kia Hebron

In Bethlehem, I saw Hyundai. And in Hebron, I saw Kia – another Korean auto maker.

Glass Factory

Glass Factory

Then we went to famous Glass Factory. Two were working on each side of the furnace. They presented us great show while they were making glass vases. It is amazing and when they do it, it looks so simple.

Horse as transportation

Horse as transportation

Do you see the horse? It is not for tourists, nor fun. They use it as mean of transportation. I’ve seen some people use horse or donkey as mean of transportation only in Palestinian area. What does this mean?

Tourist Police Bike

Tourist Police Bike

Downtown Hebron is crazy place with tons of cars, buses, trucks and horses too. I’ve never known that there is such thing like Tourist Police. But the officer came to us and guided the bus, sometimes stopping other traffic. How nice to us, the tourists.

Sheep neck

Sheep neck

We went to a very nice restaurant in Hebron whose name is ‘Hebron Restaurant.’ I ordered sheep neck. It was not bad, but ao tender and mild. The meat just melted as soon as my tongue touched it. Speaking of tongue, I ate beef tongue for dinner.

Jewish Settler Speaking

Jewish Settler Speaking

Then we went to nearby synagogue and listened to a religious Jewish settler in Hebron. He said many things, but I guess it was not that impressive to McCormick group. One of the things he said is that Israeli government built hospitals, schools for Palestinians and many of them are thankful for that. When he said that, I was confused if he is Japanese speaking to Koreans under Japanese occupation.

Imam Maher Assaf

Imam Maher Assaf

At the evening, we invited Imam Maher Assaf. Imam is a title for Muslim religious leader. Our local guide sitting next to him translated Arabic into English. He is liberal muslim, and most of the muslim does not think like him. But he is quite interesting figure to me.

Palestine Traditional Drink

Palestine Traditional Drink

At the evening session, our local guide George was with us and he introduced us Palestinian traditional (very strong alcoholic) drink. I forgot the name, but we mixed it with water and put some ice. Of course I did not drink it.

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