Inside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem there is a mixture of three of the world’s religions, Christian, Jewish and Muslim. A visit to the area brings home this fact to any observer. It is one of the reasons why there has been so much difficulty in resolving the conflict in this part of the world. Within the walls, each of those religions has areas that are considered sacred to that religion.
The base of the first Jewish temple comprises what is now known as the “Wailing Wall”. That is at one of the lowest levels of the old city. On top of those old foundations is what commonly called “Dome of the Rock”, a Muslim temple with a golden dome visible for a great distance. To reach that Muslim area, a visitor must go through a security checkpoint at the entrance to the sheltered walkway which rises to the upper area. To go through that bottleneck, one must present a passport, submit to an airport kind of screening with any item being carried passing through x ray and a personal wanding. As you might imagine this tedious process is slow and the long line is slow moving.
The day that my travel group had scheduled to visit the Dome of the Rock was a Thursday. That is the day that by tradition a boy who is going through Bar Mitzvah travels with his family to the Wailing Wall. While we were standing in the line, Jewish family groups began to arrive. Each group of a dozen people or more had a canopy to hold over the boy. People in each group carried musical instruments and drums. Everyone was singing along with the instruments that were being played. What a festive parade! Waiting in line had turned into a joyous occasion.
I suddenly realized that was a re-creation of Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It must have been like this, with happy people singing, having fun and enjoying the celebration. And I was in the very place it all happened. This memorable day has given me a new perspective and a different understanding of the events of Palm Sunday.