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IEA Old City Tour - 19.9.10

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  • Yehuda Stolov
    IEA s Old City Tour of Jerusalem on 19th September 2010: The Interfaith Encounter Association arranged a very interesting tour of the Old City on September
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2010
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      IEA's Old City Tour of Jerusalem on 19th September 2010:

      IEA's Old City Tour of Jerusalem on 19th September 2010:

      The Interfaith Encounter Association arranged a very interesting tour of the Old City on September 19th. The turn out turned out to be way more than hoped and expected with about 40 people participating in an interesting and alternative tour of the Old City in Jerusalem. The tour guide was the authorised tour-guide Jared Goldfarb, who admirably had volunteered his expertise and experience for the IEA and its participants, for that we are very grateful.

      The theme of the tour was to look beyond the obvious impressive Holy sites and the old architecture, but instead to focus on the lives and stories that live in the Old City today. Who are the people living next to the tourist sites? What special challenges does their community face?

      The tour started out in the Armenian Quarter, one of the most secluded and least accessible neighbourhoods of the Old City. The Armenian Quarter occupies the southwest corner of the Old City. It covers one-sixth of the area contained inside the ancient walls. The Armenian Quarter is reached through the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate Road, a narrow, one-way street extending through the centre of the Quarter and ending at Zion Gate in the south. The main gate of St. James Convent opens to this road which starts just below Jaffa Gate at the western wall of the Old City. Currently, about one thousand Armenians live in the Armenian Quarter. The total number of Armenians in Israel and the West Bank is estimated to be about two thousand.

      Moving on from the Armenian areas our tour guide took us to a much more vibrant and open Quarter, the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Around 2,500 people live in this Quarter. Today most of them are rather Orthodox Jews, who therefore sets the tone in the everyday life of the Quarter. The southeast corner of the Old City, the Jewish Quarter occupies about 15 acres and has been inhabited by Jews for centuries. Our guide told us about the different problems the area rises today, given the fact that a lot of Jews have a deep connection to the place, but the Jews who predominantly live in Jewish Quarter are very Orthodox, although everyone are allowed to visit the newly restored beautiful synagogue.

      Due to time-pressure we had to move on in the middle of an interesting discussion in Jewish Quarter. The next stop was the most populated area of Old City, the Muslim Quarter with more than 27,000 people living in the small area, about half the size of the Old City. The Muslim Quarter is like the Jewish Quarter very vibrant and active. The shops and vendors dominate the Quarter. Interesting enough, our tour guide revealed, that ever since the Old City was taken over by Israel in 1967, the majority of Muslims living in the Old City have still not accepted Israeli jurisprudence. On a daily basis, this means that the Muslims of course are allowed to live in the Old City, but they have not obtained citizenship and are also not participating in general elections.

      We ended our 3 hour interesting tour in the Christian Quarter. Our guide had picked a beautiful spot to end our tour, on top of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Located in the north-western corner of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Christian Quarter is accessible through the New Gate in the north and through Jaffa Gate and Damascus Gate in the south. The primary inhabitants are the Eastern Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, and Roman Catholic Churches, with the Greek Orthodox Church having the lion's share. Establishment of the 1853 status quo did not halt the violence, which continues to break out every so often even in modern times.

      The IEA tour was a huge success and we hope to be able to have more in the future.  

      Reported: David Jano

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