On day two, we woke up and went to old Jerusalem. We went through the Dung gate and headed to the Kotel. We all took a tour of the Kotel tunnels, which were excavated after the Six Day War. In the tunnels, we got to see the vaults used to raise the level of Jerusalem and also the stones that make up temple mount. It was cool to see the monumental effort done by hand to build it.
After the tour, we wrote notes to put in the Western Wall. We recited the Shema at the wall. We left the Kotel and toured the old city. One of the places we stopped was four connected Sephardic synagogues. Just after we after we made it to the first one, a Bar Mitzah began. The next synagogue over had a sofer who was working on a Torah. One of the other two synagogues was mostly empty and the last one was a museum. Which had a collection of yads and a couple of Sephardic style Torahs. Which are in a hinged, cylindrical case instead in a soft cover.
We then got food from a small restaurant were everyone got either falafel or schnitzel; it was very tasty. The meal was finished with juicy watermelon as dessert. We also met a birthright group and one of the girls was from Miami University in Ohio. Two other girls in that group were from Livingston, New Jersey, where the Cantor’s wife is from. We finished up lunch early, meaning we had time to kill, so we checked out the Cardo. A Cardo is the main street running north to south in ancient Roman cities. Which was cool because we got to walk on the same street that people walked on two thousand years ago.
We had an appointment to go into an old synagogue called the Hurva (meaning destroyed in Hebrew) that was destroyed multiple times and was rebuilt recently. When we made it to the Hurva, we learned how it played a major roll in the war for independence as a headquarters for the predecessor to the Israeli Defense Force, causing it to be destroyed a second time. It was rebuilt to commemorate Israel’s 60th anniversary. The view off the balcony was truly spectacular. It allowed us to see most of the old city, since it went all the way around the Hurva.