Today, after 6 hours of class, we got to head out into the city for the start of Shabbat! The Jews celebrate Saturday as the Sabbath day, which starts friday night. So for our field trip today we got to go down the the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, to witness the beginning of Shabbat for the Jews.
Boy was it a party. When we were getting ready to go, they were telling us we needed to dress in our sunday cloths and in conservative colors to be respectful to their Sabbath. I was expecting it to be very reverent, but when we arrived everyone was dancing and singing. I wanted to join in but I didn't know any of the words and to tell the truth I was a little embarrassed to ask if I could jump in and now I'm regretting it. But instead I got to talk with some of the people that had gathered there. I met some girls that were a part of a "Birthright Tour" where they bring American Teens from Jewish decent that haven't come to the Holy Land and take them all over Israel... for FREE. Cool huh? It was kind of fun to talk to someone from America that spoke perfect English.
But back to the Western Wall. This wall was the original retaining wall to Herod's Temple, which was the temple during Christ's time. It has been added on to on the top, but the bottom 7 layers of brick still stand from when Christ was there. The Jews view it as such a Holy part of the city that they named it a place of prayer, people come from all over to leave their prayers in between the stones. It is so Holy to them, that many people will not turn their back to it, they back out of the area as a sign of respect. It was such a cool experience to gather with these people, watching them cry as they prayed to their God, the devotion they have is incomparable. Gathering with them, touching this ancient stone, and putting my own prayer a long with the many others was a very special experience.
It was fun to see the many ways these people, celebrated and honored their Sabbath day. Some who chose to make it a joyous occasion as they danced and sang to their God, along side with the people praying and asking to bless their loved ones. I'm sad that, because it is after dark in the city, this was the only time to witness this special occurrence. For this trip at least ;)