Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCLXXXIX. A Return Visit (4 of 19)

October 19

When I made my tour arrangements, the travel agent assured me that United Tours was a well-organized company; “the best in the business,” he added.  And that indeed proved to be the case.  The staff was courteous and very knowledgeable; one of the guides told me that they were required to be fluent in at least two languages in addition to their native Hebrew.   No last minute surprises or changes occurred unless absolutely necessary.

The day was spent visiting Jerusalem (the old city) and Bethlehem.


The Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter

The Western Wall is better known as the Wailing Wall for that is all that’s left of the Second Temple.  Security is tight in this area, but once we acceded to it, we were free to look around, pray, meditate, or simply allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the significance of that sacred place.

Cracks between the big old stones are used to insert messages, wishes, and prayers.  All this paper together with the supplications it includes cannot be left there forever; accordingly, it is periodically removed and buried according to Jewish Law.

I did not pray at the wall, but I left a simple message:  “Peace upon this troubled world!”

Our guide told us that at night the wall is lit; thus transforming it into a fairy like realm.  On Friday, before sunset, the Orthodox Jews congregate by the wall, and when the sun sets they receive the Shabbat bride with prayer, song, and dance.

The Jewish Quarter includes many sacred sites, Roman ruins, synagogues, small cobblestoned streets, and above all history.  It’s included on most tours, and affords the guide the opportunity to showcase the history of Jerusalem since the Jews re-established themselves here in the late 1400s (after they were exiled from Spain).

Our guide urged us early on to stay close to him for the Quarter was a real labyrinth; a look around convinced us that that would be a wise course of action!  The old houses, and winding paths all looked the same; and the only landmarks were synagogues and yeshivas!

We did not visit the whole district; that would have been impossible, for there is a lot to see.  As well, my own account was of necessity kept general; this is after all the Holy Land; there is so much to see and do; but portraying it faithfully does not mean carrying it to tedious extremes.  In many instances, I’ll let the site speaks for itself.

Via Dolorosa

This Latin expression literally means “The Way of Suffering,” and it is believed to be the path followed by Jesus as he carried the cross to Golgotha.

Via Dolorosa today is a very narrow and crowded street with stores on both sides.  The only reminder of what happened here are mosaic mounted at intervals on church walls or placed on outdoor shrines.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is one of the most sacred of Christian sites, for it is the location where Jesus was crucified, where he died and was entombed, and from where he rose again.  Its central place in Christianity invited infighting between the many Christian denominations; who was going to be responsible for its administration and maintenance?

During the Ottoman Empire the Law of the Status Quo was passed, and it decreed who got what.  This division of duties happened in the middle of the 19th century; and it is still in force today.

So, very briefly, what does each of the stations commemorate?

The 1st Station is the spot where Pilate conducted Jesus’ trial and condemned him to death by crucifixion.

The 2nd Station is where Jesus took up the cross.

The 3rd Station is where Jesus first fell under the weight of the cross.

The 4th Station is where Jesus saw his mother.

The 5th station is where Simon the Cyrene helped Jesus carry the cross.

The 6th Station is the location where Veronica wiped Jesus’ face with a cloth.

The 7th Station marks the spot where Jesus fell for the second time.

The 8th Station is where Jesus tells the grieving women “weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children …” (St. Luke 23:28-30).

The 9th Station marks the location where Jesus fell for a third time.

The remaining stations are all in the Church of Holy Sepulcher.

The 10th Station is where Jesus has his clothes removed.

The 11th Station is where Jesus was nailed to the cross.

The 12th Station is the site of the crucifixion and the death of Jesus.

The 13th Station is where Jesus was taken down from the cross and received by Mary.

And finally, the 14th Station is where Jesus was buried.

Some important observations are in order.

Christianity spread when the Roman Emperor Constantine adopted it as the official religion of the Roman Empire.  In 326 CE his mother Helena went to the Holy Land in an attempt to determine the locations of the holy sites.  With the help of the existing religious authorities she determined where those sites were.

In the Middle Ages the concept of the stations came into being; they were based on the eight episodes of the crucifixion as related in the Gospels.  For 200 years, this became the accepted route; thereafter, Europeans pilgrims added more Gospel stops until we arrived at today’s 14.

According to many scholars, the additional Stations neither fully conform with Biblical nor Historical realities.

As well, the proper identification of the holy sites as reported by St. Helena, has been a matter of great debate among Christian academics, the clergy, and indeed many ordinary Christians.

We visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the same day.  Our group asked the perennial questions, the very same ones that have resonated down the centuries:  Is that really the place where Mary, Joseph, and the Three Wise Men, first laid eyes on the Holy Infant?  Is that really the road to Calvary?

Needless to say, there are no definitive answers to these questions.  But does that really matter?  How important are locations when we are talking of divinity coming to dwell among us?  It was the Lord’s hope to eventually inhabit men’s hearts; and this without any doubt is the only location that still matters to Him.

Comments are closed.