Over the next few months we will be posting occasional blogs written by students in Rabbi Rob Kahn’s classes “City of Faith” and “Ideology.” In our first installment, Evan Dolgow writes about a class tour to numerous burial sites in Jerusalem that represent the diversity and power of the city.
What can I say? Starting from the foundation of Jerusalem to exploring Jewish history through archaeology was phenomenal. Our group, led by Rabbi Rob Kahn, began the exploration at a fountain on the edge of Yemin Moshe. Even though I have ignorantly passed that fountain over a dozen times in my life, little did I know the meaning was so significant.
(The fountain at Yemin Moshe.)
The fountain structure is composed of three main water spouts. The spouts are stacked three levels high, which slowly point to a dove at the top of the structure. The three spouts represent the three main religions of Jerusalem: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The spouts point to a brass dove portraying the coexistence and that efforts towards peace should persist. What a way to start the day! We then made our way to a number of other sites in Jerusalem including a centuries old first-temple burial cave, Oskar Schindler‘s grave, David’s tomb, the room of the last supper, and finally, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Virgin Mary’s burial crypt.
Sounds exhausting but with enough energy we kept on moving! We discussed how the sites represented something bigger than the physical aspects, something bigger than all of us. These sites represent the magnificence of coexisting religions, especially in the holy land of Israel. While we paused for a few moments overlooking a view covering the Jewish section of Jerusalem to the Muslim section of East Jerusalem, I realized something very important; politics play a key role in the land feud to the deep seeded hatred amongst all the religions. Removing the political factor, I saw three peaceful sections living in each others presence. Although not always the friendliest towards one another, this was no pre-1967! I glanced back at history and tried to imagine the battle ground and guaranteed, what I saw yesterday was no battleground! Remember, at the end of the day Israel is only 65 years old. In any book, that’s a country just starting to walk.
Walking through Jerusalem’s streets of history really proves that peace is underway. Whether land is given up or unilateral actions are taken, people are people and everyone is innately attracted to peace. From the old Jewish cemeteries to watching an Ethiopian Christian ceremony in front of Mary’s tomb, I truly believe that peace is possible. After all, Jerusalem is no longer a war zone.