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Holy Land: Day 8 (Jon Collom)

The Temple Mount… one of the holiest sites for both Jews and Muslims. Within its 36-acres, the Jewish temples were erected and subsequently destroyed. But today I’m focusing on the Muslims who now administer this area. Muslims believe that it was here that Mohammed ascended to heaven and talked with God(Allah).

We Holy Comforter pilgrims were privileged to enter the interiors of both the Dome of the Rock and the Al-AQSA Mosque, which is very rare for non-Muslims. Our Palestinian guide emphasized that those buildings are just that, buildings, and the entire land area is a holy mosque. Oh, but what magnificent buildings!

The CHC women were modestly garbed from head to ankles in respect for our hosts’ sacred spaces. Notwithstanding this, a highlight of this trip has to be meeting with an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim who had never met each other before and candidly discussed the current tensions between their ethnic groups. They are both members of Musalaha whose aim is to promote/facilitate reconciliation.

It was very powerful. We had to end at 9:00 p.m. because if the Palestinian didn’t cross back to the Bethlehem refugee camp where he lives by 10:00 p.m., his privilege to cross the walled border would be terminated… forever. Wow! Think about that. The restrictions imposed by the Israeli government are formidable, daunting, and even dehumanizing.