I arrived safely in Tel Aviv this afternoon, and Mary Wendeln from CPT's Hebron project met me at the airport. We took a shuttle to the Jaffa Gate, an entrance to the Old City in Jerusalem where Christians, Jews and Muslims can enter and easily access their own quarters of the Old City. It's high festival time now, for both Jewish and Muslim faiths. Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic year, continues in its third full week. Muslims fast during daylight hours and break the fast together after the call to prayer at sunset. This year it coincides with Sukkoth, the Jewish feast of the Tabernacle.
The city is alive, even at this late hour of the evening, with vendors selling food, shoes, cloth, pottery, and all sorts of beautiful artisan work. The Damascus Gate, at the entrance to the Muslim quarter, is adorned with bright lights and crowds of people wander through the stands, smoking nargeelah and talking.
Tomorrow we head out to Hebron, a 30 mile trip that takes 2 hours because of road closures and checkpoints. While Israelis have access to good roads, Palestinians must use separate (and unequal) roads to travel, and CPT will travel with the Palestinians. I'm looking forward to more reunions with many of the people who were in my January CPT training in Chicago-- 6 of them, in fact! We pretty much are the Palestine teams now ;) Keep posted for more news (and hopefully photos coming soon) from the Holy Land.