Schindler's Grave & the Old City

In the morning we arrived at Mt. Zion Cemetery. The first time that my wife and I tried to visit Schindler’s grave on Mt. Zion, the gate was closed. A woman who was passing by told us that his tombstone was in one of the front rows. The next time we got to the cemetery, the gate was open. As we started looking for Schindler’s grave, a young pudgy teenager pointed to the back of the cemetery and motioned for us to follow him down some steps that twisted around a series of arches. At the time, there was no one else there, except a buddy of his who stayed near the entrance. I was hesitant, but my wife was willing—she always has more faith in people than I do. The boy probably only wanted a few shekels for his help, and he looked harmless enough; but we had been told by an adult that the grave was elsewhere. I tentatively kept up the rear, stopping the procession every so often to caution my wife, but to no avail. We eventually made it to the end of the cemetery. The boy pointed to the grave. Indeed, it was Schindler’s. Then he sat nearby, waiting. I felt like an ass for doubting him and for thinking that perhaps he wanted to lure us into a trap—with his friend as the lookout. I guess that all he wanted was a tip. But he seemed offended when my wife offered him some shekels, as if his good deed was self-serving. He shook his head, finally took the money, and trudged away. How often in a foreign country am I misled by the bogeyman of paranoia!

In the afternoon, we spent a lot of time at Wohl Archaeological Museum in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. The most astounding finds were at a palatial home in a “suburb” of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. The partial ruins contained huge anterooms, entertainment halls, ritual bathing facilities, dining rooms, and a maze of bedrooms. Before leaving the Old City, we visited a memorial to the Jewish soldiers who died in the 1948 War of Independence: it was very sobering.

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