Today was spent mostly at churches and ended at a park. First we visited the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. Compared to the more elegant Catholic churches nearby, this Protestant church was quite toned down. It had a subdued grandeur. We could have climbed up the 100 or so steps to the tower but decided to save our strength. Next came the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate Church at the 8th station on the Via Dolorosa—somehow we had missed this site on an earlier self-guided tour. We were sure glad we just happened to bump into this magnificent church on our way to revisit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Coptic Church was very elaborately studded with portraits and statues of saints and an elaborately carved, mammoth chandelier.
After having lunch, we entered the Holy Church of the Sepulcher, where Marie placed some family crosses on one of the holiest spots in the church, Christ’s resting place after being taken off the cross.
Later, we visited St. James Church, the major church in the Armenian Quarter. We got there just in time for the 3:00 service, the only time the church is open to the public. Picture taking was frowned on; in fact, one priest hounded a woman who got caught. Marie did happen to take two pictures—without a flash—initially but abided by the restriction after that. I crossed my legs at one point; a lady next to me chided me for this apparent faux pas. Afterwards, I found out on the internet that crossing one’s legs in many churches is disrespectful. St. James Church, while fairly dark, is supremely ornate. It is also chock full of censers in all its chambers. During the service, a priest shook so much incense out of his censer that Stan got woozy from smoke inhalation.
Before taking the bus home, we went to Bloomfield Gardens for some r and r. In the background, Stan first took pictures of the majestic Dormition Abbey and its towers. Then he focused on the people in the park:
The Kippah (yarmulke) is a Keeper
While my wife was taking a siesta on a park bench in Jerusalem, I took some candid pictures of people nearby. The most significant snapshots were of a young child with his kippah (a yarmulke). It fell from his head as he tumbled downhill on his bike. I could no longer see the kippah when the boy got up. Seemingly unaware that he no longer had it, he pushed his bike onto flatter ground. Just as I thought about retrieving the kippah for the boy, I saw him with his left hand gesture towards his parents. In that hand, he was clutching his yarmulke as if he would never let go it, no matter what hazards awaited him. I took a picture of his triumph.
A few minutes later, I took another picture of the boy. This time, he was climbing up a tree right next to me. He was firmly holding his yarmulke in his trusty left hand while he maneuvered along the branches. He might topple, but I suspected that the kippah would never slip out of his grasp.
At that moment, I had an epiphany. I envisioned that boy throughout his life faithfully and intrepidly guarding the kippah, an insignia of his Jewish identity that nothing could diminish or destroy in a Holocaust-proof Israel.
When my wife is awake, she takes most of the pictures. I have always felt that she is more adept at using her digital camera than I am. But my simply shot photos of the boy in the park have given me a boost: I may well encourage my wife to take more naps.