By Heather O.
Shabat officially starts in an hour or so. Dh is out frantically looking for a store that is open. He will have to leave our neighborhood, as it is already shut down tight. They don’t mess around in these parts.
We went to the Old City today, against warnings to keep away because of Nakba Day. Nakba day is the “Day of Catastrophe” for Arabs, the day the Israel state was officially formed. We tried to go to the zoo (our third attempt in 3 days), but we waited a half an hour for the bus that never came. So we headed to the Old City, which is a $10 cab ride away.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I had no idea what to expect. I was floored. Totally overwhelmed with the labryinth-like streets, the crowds, the smells, the food, the shops. In a weird way, it reminded me of Manhattan, little tiny weird shops stuffed against each other that are filled floor to ceiling with merchandise, and a tiny chair in the middle of it all where one lone person sits, waiting for customers. I mentioned my musings to my husband, and he grinned and said, “This isn’t Manhattan, babe.”
He has a point.
Some people called to us to buy things, but most people ignored us. Except Little Sister. She was like a bright little beacon, and people stared at her, maybe because she’s so blonde, maybe because she was wearing a bright yellow dress, maybe because she was chirping at everything, maybe all of the above.
Lots of security forces guarded the city gates, complete with riot police on horses. Armed policemen roamed inside the Old City, and we later learned that access to the Temple Mount was restricted, open only to women and men over 45. We have since learned that while there was some mischief on the Mount of Olives, Friday prayers continued without incident. We stayed in the Christian Quarter of the City, though, just to be on the safe side. (And I mean that literally.)
We stopped for a kebab, and had a pleasant conversation with the owner of the shop. He spoke excellent English and German (which was fun), and taught us a little Arabic. Then he asked what religion we were, and we talked about Mormonism. He said he knew those Mormons up on the hill (The BYU Jerusalem Center is on the Mount of Olives, respectively), and had lots of Mormon customers, but never knew what we believe. I told him the basics–that we follow Jesus Christ, that we believe in the Old Testament and the New Testament. He nodded vigorously, and talked about Christ being the Way, the Truth, and the Light. I told him we believed the same things, but that we believe in another book, the Book of Mormon, which is an account of Christ’s teaching in the American Continent.
He flat out told me I was wrong. That the Book of Mormon is false. That Joseph Smith is a false prophet (he had heard of Joseph Smith) and that Jesus Christ never left Jerusalem. That my religion was false.
Our tour book mentioned that religious tolerance isn’t a strong point in these parts.
So now are home, ill-prepared for the Shabat. We failed to go shopping this morning, so we will have to make due with our meager provisions until Sunday. Poor kids are missing chocolate chip cookies, and are unfortunately not impressed with baklava.
Oh well. I’m sure we can find something that will tempt my children’s palate.
(Well, you know what I mean.)
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