The Herodian-era structure is a challenge to comprehend, as it is both a mosque and synagogue--a holy place for Muslims and Jews. We left the mosque and headed around the building for the Jewish entrance to the synagogue, going next through another armed checkpoint. The synagogue is a place of study and learning and there were also cenotaphs here dedicated to these same patriarchs and matriarchs. Women and men were praying close by, some weeping. There are very few tourists who come to these sites, so it was a special privilege that we were here. The city streets included Jewish and Palestinian shop owners who were pleading with us to support them with a purchase. It was very sad to see the hunger in their eyes. I suppose we helped them a little.
After a delicious Palestinian lunch, we went to the Oaks of Mamre where Abraham and Sarah were visited by the three Angels. We read the story of Abraham and Sarah's hospitality. Is it possible to have walked these steps this day? How many have walked before us? Our day ended with Dr. Marcie Lenk, professor at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, engaging us about the Genesis story of Abraham and Sarah and Hagar. These patriarchs and matriarchs have come alive in new ways this day. The connections for Abrahamic children are so deep and so complex and yet I continue to see how vital it is for us to be in conversation with one another. We are not strangers but sisters and brothers.
Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are believed to be buried