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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 – CCXC. A Return Visit (5 of 19)

The Temple Mount

It is the privilege of every guide taking a group to Jerusalem to point at Har Bayit as it is called in Hebrew or Al-Haram Ash-Sharif as it is called in Arabic.  No doubt over the years he has found the words required to describe the holiest and most controversial spot on the planet.

The Temple Mount in the southwestern corner of Jerusalem is enormously sacred to all Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and each of those religions claims that this place holds momentous significance to them.  Not surprisingly therefore we were greeted by the military who were here to keep the peace among the multitudes of the faithful.

All agree that this is the biblical Mt. Moriah, the location where Abraham was called upon by God to sacrifice his son.

This is also the place chosen by Solomon to build the first temple in 950 BCE, and it is here that the Holy Ark of the Covenant was placed.

The Dome of the Rock

Qubbet Es-Sakhra as it is called in Arabic is a bewitching site with its gold dome, marble base, and many thousand tiles.

The importance of this Holy Rock to Muslims cannot be overstated:  It is connected with Abraham and Ishmael (according to Muslim tradition, Ishmael was the son to be sacrificed). As well, it is from this rock that Mohammed (peace be upon him) rode his horse el-Burak for his extraordinary night voyage to heaven.

For Jews, there are altars that were used for burnt offerings in the First and Second Temples; and sacred relics with the imprints of prophets’ footprints.

King David’s Tomb

It is located on Mount Zion, and it is holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

On the ground level are several Jewish synagogues; the second level is where the “Last Supper” took place; finally, the third level has a Muslim muezzin tower.

Last Supper

Tradition holds that Jesus and his disciples held a Passover Seder, in the upper room of the above mentioned structure, on the night before Jesus was captured, tried, and crucified.  (The Seder commemorates the deliverance by the Almighty of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt).

The hall of the Last Supper is a 12th century crusader construction, built on the upper level above the traditional place of King David`s tomb.  Archeological findings on the lower floor lend credence that this location was indeed where the Last Supper took place.

Rachel`s Tomb

Between Bethlehem and Jerusalem on Nablus Road is Rachel`s tomb.  It`s a sacred place for Jews, and many synagogues have been built up and torn down over the centuries.

According to tradition, Rachel died in Bethlehem giving birth to Benjamin.  Despite this tragic outcome, the tomb attracts women who come to pray for a child or a healthy pregnancy.

Time places a limit on tours; therefore, our visit to this sacred place was brief.

Bethlehem

The name means House of Bread in Hebrew (Beit Lehem) and House of Meat in Arabic (Beit Lahm).  I don`t know the origin of those names; really Bethlehem is a sacred place to both Jews and Christians.

This is where Rachel died, where David was found, and above all where Jesus was born.

The main church here is the Church of the Nativity shared by Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Catholics alike.  In 326 CE, Constantine and his mother St. Helena commissioned a church to be built over the cave where Christ is believed to have been born.  In turn this church was torn down by Justinian in 530 CE, and he built a much larger church that remains to the present day.

The Grotto of the Nativity is a rectangular area beneath the church; you descend a flight of stairs and you find yourself in the very location honored as the place Christ was born.  A silver star in the floor marks the very spot where the Holy Infant was born.  The Grotto is managed by the Greek Orthodox.

Very close to the birthplace shrine, is the Chapel of the Manger, and it is administrated by the Roman Catholics.  Back in the upper church, go through a door and you will find yourself in the Roman Catholic Church of St. Catherine which was built in the late 19th century.

The Milk Grotto Church is built above the cave where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus hid from Herod before departing to Egypt.  The cave rock was once a milky white, hence the name, but it`s been darkened by time and pollution.  There is another reason for this name; a few drops of Mary`s milk is said to have dropped while she was nursing her Son; and this gave the rocks their whitish color!  Consequently, over the centuries, many women have come here to pray for fertility.

The holiness of the churches I visited on that day cannot be overstated.  Nevertheless, the cathedrals I visited in Europe easily surpassed these churches.  And that is as it should be; as our love and devotion for the Lord grew, we built bigger and better homes for the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; we are humans after all, and our way to honor the Deity is, of necessity, material in nature.

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