Today we started our morning with a guided tour of the Western Wall Tunnels. These tunnels are the excavation of the land underneath the Muslim Quarter of Old Jerusalem, following the course of the 2000+ year old retaining wall for the Temple Mount–which is also the same wall as the Western Wall.
The holiest place for place for the Jewish faith, our guide told us, is the rock upon which Abraham was stopped from sacrificing his son Isaac. Of course, this rock is the same rock that the Muslims revere as well, being the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven during his Night Vision. This rock is under the Dome of the Rock, and Jews are most decidedly not allowed to worship or pray there.
The closest they can get is the Western Wall, and by excavating under the existing homes, the Jews can get closer to the rock.
I especially loved the model at the beginning of the tour. It was super helpful to see the “original” contours of the land, and the way the huge Herodian-build platform modified the area. Herod was a very ambitious builder. It’s hard to imagine how these huge projects were done without the use of heavy machinery! (Or, you know, dynamite or something similar.)
The end of our tour was a little crazy–Gee’s wheelchair, which had navigated so well clear up until the end, and which the tour guides never said a word about, wouldn’t fit through the last bit of the tunnel. We tried everything we could. And Gee was at the front of the line of tour participants, in a VERY narrow tunnel. So that was fun. It was really hard on Gee, because they felt like they were in just totally in the way. The other tour participants, though, were so sweet and kind, and tried to make sure we all knew they were okay with everything. And I have to say I LOVED the way my other kiddos tried to help. Zee in particular, but each one of them did their very best to smooth the way. They are good kids!