From Kathy Slattery
Breakfast at 5:45am – really? Yep, our amazing guide Iyad knows (he knows everything, actually) that we need to get to the Western Wall and The Dome of the Rock really early in order to experience these places before the crowds arrive.
When we arrived at the Western Wall, the men and women (heads covered) approached the wall on separate sides of a screen. We touched the wall, prayed and put tiny slips of paper rolled tightly with prayers on them into crevasses in the wall. There were many faithful Jews praying at the wall with us.
Afterwards, we went through our second security check of the morning and walked up a ramp to the Temple Mount which thanks to our early arrival, was nearly empty. Out of this vast terrace arises the beautiful gold dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, The Dome of the Rock. The rock marks the site from where the Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey to heaven began and it is one of the three most holy places in Islam.
We then visited Saint Ann’s (mother of Mary) Church (12th century) where we sang “Seek Ye First” in acoustical splendor. Later, I found our choir member, Ruth Cunningham singing impromptu in an underground chapel with a rapt audience. We were also treated to some fabulous singing of other pilgrim groups.
The Pools of Bethesda and a visit to the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum rounded out another great day of our pilgrimage!