Wednesday, January 19, 2011

3rd Crystal: Ibrahimi Mosque, Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron, West Bank

  Hebron marks the end of “Abraham’s Path,” as it is the resting place, called the “Cave of the Patriarchs” where Abraham, his descendants and their wives are buried. It is thus sacred to Jews and Muslims–and in the struggle for control of it some horrible atrocities have been perpetrated on both sides over the years. It continues to be a very intense place (although less so than when I was there in 2002, during the height of the Intifata). 

     Hebron is a major Palestinian city in the West Bank, with 160,000 residents, but several hundred devout Israeli “Settlers” have moved into the central city center above the ancient market stalls making it unsafe for Palestinians to shop there. In addition, many more Israelis live in growing Settlements outside the city –requiring a heavily armed Israeli police and military presence.  

    Our group of “Pilgrims” got dropped off near the “Abraham Avinu Synagogue” and adjoining “Ibrahimi Mosque”– which are the names given to the two sides of this now-divided shrine. We thought we would go into the Mosque, but as the Muslim noon-day prayers were being called, we decided to go first into the Synagogue. Our bags were scanned (to make sure we weren’t bringing bombs or weapons). 

     We went in and saw the many Israelis praying and studying among many books, chairs and alcoves with fine wooden panels and Hebrew calligraphies. We paid our respects to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives, Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah.
     As we headed toward the exit, an older Jewish Settler stepped up to our English Guide, Daniel, and asked who we were. He shared about the Abraham Path Initiative and the man responded that the “Arabs” had just come here 700 years ago, while the Jews had always been here and that God had given them this land. “Why didn’t the ‘others’ (Palestinians) just: 'Go Home?”– an interesting statement from someone whose ancestors had lived in Europe for hundreds of years until he recently came to Israel! But he and Daniel had an interesting and civil discussion!
     Then, we went down and had tea with one of the Palestinian shopkeepers on the street who ran a  souvenir shop while the noon prayers continued in the Mosque.  After some stories ans a rest, we proceeded back to the Muslim side to go into the Mosque. Since the women in the group did not look like Muslims, we each had to don a gray cape with hood to be properly covered. But we were allowed in to this sacred Mosque, to take pictures and look at the various Islamic art pieces adorning the place.         
After seeing “Ibrahim’s ceremonial coffin” draped in green cloth embroidered with sacred lettering which symbolically represented the tomb of Abraham and peering into the well-like hole in the floor which goes down to the cave below where the actual bodies are purported to be, I found a corner near the “shrine,” said our peace prayers, and slipped a crystal under the Persian rug where I sat.

  Jewish Peace Prayer

Oh come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
that we may walk the paths of the Most High.
And we will beat our swords into ploughshares
and our spears into pruning hooks.


Please add your prayers 
and heartfelt desires 
for Peace in the Middle East--
in whatever language 
or representing whatever brand of spirituality you profess, 
as they are so needed in our time.

No comments:

Post a Comment