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Notes From Jerusalem

Let me start off by saying that I am not a religious person and do not have a religious or political agenda while visiting The Holy Land. I’m here as a tourist, seeing what I get a chance to see and documenting my trip as best as I can. How else can I appreciate the fact that I’ve heard 3 different cover versions of “Personal Jesus” in the hotel bar? Stairway to Heaven is another song I’ve caught in heavy rotation.

Since this is country number 73, I figured I should see the major sights to get my bearings. I spent today touring the Old City of Jerusalem. I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which, according to my Aussie/Israeli tour guide, is widely accepted by non-Protestant Christians as the site where Jesus was nailed to the cross.

I also visited the Wailing Wall, posted a picture on Twitter and promptly got called out via social media.  “You should also take pictures for praying Palestinians.” I was told. I replied that I would as soon as the opportunity presented itself. I’m just tagging along on my husband’s business trip and photographing what I come across.

I made a new friend, Hazeem, while buying a keffiyeh. Purchasing the headdress is not a political statement. My reasons are far less deep. It has more to do with the fact that, as a girl, I occasionally like to play dress up, combined with the fact I’ve wanted one since I first saw the Rock The Casbah video by the Clash.

The highlight of today though was, without a doubt, visiting Yad Vashem, the insanely well designed “Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority.” Taking pictures inside the main memorial building is not allowed, but I wanted to share this with you. In this one instance, I failed as a detached observer. I was moved to tears (and to typing the words down on my iPhone) when I read this passage, displayed on the wall, written by a 14 year old.

“When I grow up and get to be twenty

I’ll travel and see this world of plenty.

In a bird with an engine I will sit myself down,

Take off and fly into space, far above the ground.

I’ll fly, I’ll cruise and soar up high

Above a world so lovely, into the sky…”

–Abramek Koplowicz, murdered in Auschwitz at age 14

Wise words from a boy who didn’t live to be 15.

I’m not on a pilgrimage, but I did come away from that experience with this. Travel makes you realize that people all believe different things but, in the end, we all have the same dreams.