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April 21: Shabbat Stroll
Shabbat in Jerusalem. No buses are running,there are very few cars, all the stores are closed, and people are either strolling with their families or inside with their families.
An Exercise in Mobility
On a Sabbath afternoon yesterday in Jerusalem, I decided to walk vigorously on the new extra wide bike/pedestrian path nearby, an area that is sparsely populated during the week. At first, there was lots of room as I took my strides. But soon the place got dangerously crowded with little kids erratically riding trikes, older kids zipping around on bikes, spastic dogs given free rein on long leashes, parents pushing super-wide baby strollers between lanes, other parents running after supercharged toddlers. In order to keep my balance and avoid collisions, I had to dodge, dart, duck, squirm, and swivel for most of my walk. I remained intact but continued to be on edge until I saw some empty space near the end of my last lap. But my relief was interrupted. An old man who had been sitting with three women on a bench got up to urinate against a wall just as I passed by. I just missed the splash. Maybe next Saturday, I’ll take a sabbatical from walking the gauntlet.
We decide to take a stroll in the Rekhavya neighborhood, known for its beautiful houses and the Jerusalem Theatre. We return home via the German Colony and Emek Refaim Street where we live. We notice the buildings in a new way---and are astounded by the lack of street and pedestrian traffic.
Israel is serious about Shabbat. We returned home, had lunch and I took a short nap. Then we decided to head back toward the Old City passing through the park.
Once inside the Old City, we headed back to the Basilica where we finished touring the place of Christ's crucifixion, the stone on which he was placed and the tomb where he was later laid to rest.
We were fortunate to be there when several monks were conducting a service and to join the pilgrims to this most Holy place. It was quite moving to place my hand on the tomb of Jesus.