Jerusalem was interesting place to visit


Israel Jerusalem


We flew to the Tel Aviv airport in the early hours of the morning. From what we heard, planes don’t fly directly from Cairo to Tel Aviv, but rather people go through Athens, as did we. From Cairo to Athens and then from there to Israel.
There aren’t any Ubers in Israel, so we grabbed a bus. The 1.5 h bus trip to Jerusalem passed nicely.

On the first day, we walked around inside the old city walls, along the Via Dolorosa, and admired in awe this incredible place. Hallways, stairs, tunnels, and tiny alleys stretched for kilometers in every direction. The city was like a fortress containing different sectors for different religions. The Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Armenians, all in the same fortress with their own sacred locations. There were people reading the Bible, the Quran and the Torah (old testament) as well as many others.

The giant mosque contains a piece of stone from the base of which Muhammad rose to heaven on the back of a winged horse. Our guide told us that for the Christian faith, the same stone is the one where the creation work of God began, if I understood correctly. Only Muslims are allowed to see the stone, so we didn’t see this point of the beginning of the creation of the world, because the Muslims have taken it over due to Muhammad’s flying horse. I of course asked who could confirm whether these stories are true or not but didn’t get any answer. Ok, so the stone is where the Christian creation story and the Muslim winged horse story began, got it. It’s not ok to question everything.

Weeeeell, the Jews had nothing to do with it, but instead according to their belief the Messiah has yet to arrive, the words of the Old Testament are the basis of their being, and therefore curled sideburns, brown wigs on women’s heads, full-length dresses that look like national dress, and books with sashes hung on men’s foreheads, black pillows in armpits, and a fur hat in 40 degree heat are all fully understandable. At the Wailing Wall, women had their own “pen” and the men their own. The cry and pray for the third temple to come, in the same place where the mosque is located. It was quiet on the women’s side, on the men’s side there was dancing while yelling out some songs and jingles, some with rifles on their backs. They pray for the Messiah to come, Jesus was definitely not it apparently.

I understood that they pray at the Wailing Wall daily, nodding their heads and obeying in detail the oddest-sounding instructions from the Old Testament. I asked two young Jews if I could pose a couple questions out of interest towards their religion, why they have the long sideburns, the answer was because it says so in the book. Okay, so why do they need to be curled, because it says so in the book. I asked if they’d ever asked what the purpose is and why you have to do that, and the answer was no. Okay, so I ceased with the wondering. Case closed.



Great mosque and vailing wall

The Jews in Jerusalem were very conservative, extremely religious, arrogant, and very rude based on my own experience. Their sideburns were curled into tubes that hung in front of their ears and their heads where covered with black brimmed hats. Everyone was wearing a black coat that looked like a dressing gown and exactly the same black suit, regardless of their age. Young boys had kippahs and sideburns. The Jews walked in their own groups in the streets and didn’t notice others on the street let alone make any contact even if you asked for help or instructions. They could even stare at you without any need to communicate, I thought that was weird. Penny was almost tipped over in her stroller twice when Jewish women walked by too close on purpose. They simply weren’t interested in getting along with other people, well they are apparently God’s chosen people. They don’t marry anyone of another faith, only Jews. You are born a Jew, you cannot apparently convert to being a Jew. My own experience is that these conservative Jews were the rudest and most arrogant group of people that I have ever come across. The staring and impolite glares while walking by was continuous. They didn’t make any contact but still they had the need to glare impolitely. I felt like a second-class citizen even though I was dressed in concealing conservative restrained clothing to respect their culture. In the line for the toilet, they walked in front of everyone who was not Jewish. I said out loud aren’t I in line with a baby, and I’ll go when it’s my turn before them and that’s that. The woman looked at me from head to toe and huffed while rolling her eyes. I couldn’t believe her behavior.
Extremely religious fanatics are probably all some sort of assholes, regardless of the religion.

The local Muslims were extremely wonderful. They helped with everything and were extremely friendly. Our taxi driver was a Palestinian Muslim who lived with his family (12 people) in Jerusalem. He told us that the Gaza territory belonging to Palestine has been blockaded for 23 years. No one can get in and no one can get out. Israel wants to seize the territory for itself and they don’t want to surrender
want to surrender. Another Palestinian territory in Israel is the West Bank, which contains Jerico and Bethlehem, where we visited. When we went to Jerico, on the same day there had been a shooting in the large mosque where we have just been marveling a moment earlier. No one was killed in the incident, but many were badly injured. There had been a moment of prayer in the mosque and when the shooting had begun, tens of thousands had rushed out. We dodged the situation by a couple hours.

Road tolls became familiar and because our driver was Palestinian with Israeli plates on his car, some special permit, he didn’t have to go through inspections when crossing the borders. There were tens of army officials with their firearms everywhere. Our driver told us that a 17-year-old Palestinian had been shot at the road toll location the day before because there had been some words said. An armed Israeli official had shot the young man in cold blood at the toll site and stated as an explanation that it was a security risk.

It’s therefore no wonder that this area is marked with a red flag as a vacation spot. Still, I didn’t notice any kind of controversy or state of war in the Palestinian area. The people were wonderfully warm and the food was good. The prices were significantly cheaper than in Jerusalem and my experience of the Palestinians was much more positive.

Our driver told us that there is an electrified fence all along the border between Israel and Palestine, and it can’t be crossed. A car with Palestinian plates cannot be driven onto the Israeli side, so those who go to work leave their car at the border, walk across the border where the road tolls are paid, and then take their other car to drive to work on the Israeli side. In the Gaza territory, this kind of arrangement is not possible by any means. Our driver told us that his relatives are in Gaza and he hasn’t seen them or heard from them in 23 years.

Many things about Jerusalem stuck in my mind. In a religious sense as a Christian, even though I don’t belong to the church, it’s soothing to know that I don’t have to redeem my place in heaven or God’s protection in any way. I just need to believe. In other religions, it seems to me that it’s like an exchange economy. I do all of this according to these rules so that I can be closer to God, redeem my place in paradise. As a Christian, I don’t need to sacrifice or do anything to get into heaven, it’s enough to have faith. I don’t belong to the churchy anymore, I don’t feel that it gives me what I need. My God is present in my life without any effort and labelling. I don’t judge others, God judges. Thank you for that, because I wouldn’t want to go through so much trouble every day just to be worthy of God.

Of the sacred places, the site of the crucifixion was memorable, where the local bus station was now built. There at that same location was apparently the spot where Jesus was crucified. Thanks to the bus station, it created a nice atmosphere at an infamous site. I can’t really even say was that a sad or happy place, because the crucifixion is the reason we are all saved from our sins, so it would appear that we should be very thankful this is so.

We dipped Penny’s head in the sacred waters of the Jordan, where Jesus was baptized in his time.

We visited the birthplace of Jesus which at the time was a stable. There is now a church built at the site and there was a metal star in a floor stone in the cellar marking the birthplace and the location of the manger was also marked. People stand in line daily for up to three hours to see this. We got to pass the line because we had Penny with us.

We visited the temple of the resurrection of Jesus, where there was a flagstone marking the spot where he had risen from the dead to the heavens. We visited the tomb where his body was laid after the crucifixion. The burial tomb was located in a garden, in a chamber carved into bedrock. There had been a rolling stone at the door that had been pushed to the side on the third day after Jesus died.



All in all, everything related to religion got a deeper meaning and it was extremely interesting to visit the historical sites.

It’s soothing to be a Christian today when you see the extremely obedient and regulated lifestyle of other religions. I was appalling to experience the behavior of the local Jews, I was very surprised since I didn’t have any impression about them as a group of people.

I got a different perspective on Muslims compared that what I have developed based on the ones in Finland. These local Muslims were extremely wonderful. We come in all forms, it’s positive to note that there are so many different types in different groups of people.

Jerusalem, you remain in my mind as a beautiful historical site and brought my God closer to me. Thank you.

With love Sini Ariell
Collaboration with Disturb.fi Suomikasino.fi Honkajoenpanimo.fi
Translated from the original Finnish text by Stiina Rasimus-Sahari

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