What exactly is a Jewish breakfast?

Posted: December 5, 2006 in Israel, jerusalem

Rafa wanted to eat a Jewish breakfast so we went down to the Jewish quarter to see what we could find. I didnt know exactly what a Jewish breakfast was, but hey, I’m down. He ended up getting a bagel because all the restaurants were still closed. I was hungry but not into the bagel so i decided to wait. From where we stood I noticed that they were admitting people into the dome of the Rock /Al Aqsa Mosque area so went went up through the gate.

Immediately upon entry, this little old Arab man comes up to us asking to be our guide. I say no thanks and he persists saying it’s cheap and if we don’t like it don’t pay. I ask how much he charges and he says whatever we think it’s worth or whatever we can pay and what seems right, so we say yes. Big mistake.

So he starts the tour over at the mosque, which is very nice, but we can’t go in because Sharon came in during 2000 and killed 17 muslims, so he says, but the guide says maybe next month. Ok. Then we come up to the Dome of the Rock. The dome is probably the most spectacular building within the walls of Jerusalem. It’s is actually quite breathtaking. It’s covered in multicolored tilework, and capped with a golden metal dome, and it’s just a gorgeous sight to see up close. The unfortunate part of this though, is that we can’t go in here either. So with a little more explanation the tour ends. I thank our guide and give him 20 shekels (about 5 bucks) for his 20 minutes of work. The old guy says it’s not enough and that if we enjoyed the tour and that he wants 400 shekels. I say no way that’s all i have to give, but maybe Rafa can match it. After some argument he manages to get 80 shekels out of Rafa. After that we decided that everyone will get a firm NO from now on.

From the Dome we head back to the Jewish Quarter so I can eat. We go to a Jewish cafe and I get an omlet sandwich. Rafa pulls his bagel out to eat and the waitress freaks out on him saying he can’t eat it there. He asks why and she says it’s the Kosher law. He says he got it from a Kosher store but she won’t hear it. Whatever, It doesn’t matter. Kosher laws? yeah right. We knew she was full of it but respected her wishes anyways.

Afterward we went back through the Muslim quarter and did a little shopping in the bazaar and wound up at the Church of the Redeemer. It’s a pretty old European church with a tall bell tower you can climb up into. we climbed up to the top and right when we got there, the call to prayers started sounding off from the mosques in the area. You could hear so many different ones from the city and ones rolling down off the surrounding hills. It’ like a rush of wind, the mix of voices. After they finished we descended the spiral staircase of the tower and hit the pavement again. shortly after we left the church, the church bells from the tower began to ring. Too bad we missed hearing them up close. we ‘d probably be deaf from it but it sounded beautiful.

We didnt go 5 steps when another “tour guide” that we had run into a few days before that we told we’d come back the next day saw us and came running up. He said we weren’t right becasue we didnt meet him like we said we would and that we need to do the tour now. He was getting pretty annoyng so i just said no and walked away.

Next we went up and out Damascus Gate and went down to see the Garden Tomb. The tomb is set in a very serene garden maintained by a British organization. Some say that this is the authentic tomb of Christ, not the one in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It lies in East Jerusalem, behind the Arab bus station on a hillside that looks suspiciously like a skull face. It was first observed by some British Military guy in the 1800’s and they explored and found what appears to be an unfinished tomb for a rich man. It’s definitely interesting and meets the criteria, but not sure if it’s really Christ’s tomb. Regardless, it’s moving when you think about the implications of an empty tomb on a hill overlooking Jerusalem.

I was craving chocolate so after we left the tomb, i grabbed an Arabic Mars bar. No almonds. what a bummer. We walked back into the old city via Herod’s gate and picked up a couple little meat pockets; deep fried lamb goodness. It was starting to get chilly and late so we thoght we ‘d swing back to the room, but instead found ourselves at the Prison of Christ.

This is apparently the prison that Christ was held in so we went in to see it. It’s run by the Greek Orthodox and is a series of subterranean chambers that have benches carved along the walls with chain holes for locking prisoners by hand into the rock wall. We took a number of photos and in the room that has the big painting of Christ being imprisoned, Rafa jumps up and feeds his legs through the holes that would restrain an ancient prisoner. I snapped a photo before the priest saw him. Next as Rafa was busy taking photos of something, i heard from way in the back chamber a noise like someone walking through shallow water. I went to the back and found a dark chamber that was blocked by a gate. There was no light and when I whispered for Rafa to come hear, it suddenly stopped. I got creeped out because it seemed to have stopped right when i told Rafa to come listen. He never heard it.

Next we were off to St. Annes Monastery and the Pools of Bethesda. The monastery is all enclosed, and has its own courtyard in addition to being adjacent to the pools. The ruins of the Pools of Bethesda went down at least 50 feet from the level we were at. This is the place where Jesus healed a paralyzed man. It was getting close to closing so we had to hurry. No one was around so we descended into the ruins and even crossed a few guard rails to get up close. We wanted to get up and into one of the cisterns. They were dark and some still containing water. It was a little creepy going into the chambers in complete darkness and seeing water flowing among grecian columns. From there we went up into the Basilica of St. Anne. The church is a natural amplifier. It was large and spacious and the sound just keeps bouncing off the walls. To remain in compliance with the sign that read “religious hymns only” Rafa sang christmas songs to hear the echos, and I sang “Padre Nuestro” and another song from my childhood. It was about to close so we left and went back to the convent to retire to the tranquility of the rooftop view. Sharing the area with us was a lady from Canada named Brenda who had just arrived that day. We chatted with her for a bit then decided to eat and then call it a night.

View today’s photos

Video from the Citadel of David

Call to Prayer from the Church of the Redeemer Tower

Many Calls to Prayer and Church Bells

The Very Busy Bazaar

The Rooftop Terrace

More from The Rooftop Terrace

  1. Joe Aceves says:

    Can’t beleive you guys actual paid more for a tour that ended up being closed anyway. Mark, Frank probably sent that tour guide.

  2. Amazing. Sounds like your having a great time. I wish I was there… It’s likely that I would get into trouble debating politics.

  3. Oscar says:


    How did you get suckered into a tour? I mean come on haven’t you been to GDL enough times to know you don’t do that?

  4. Joanne says:

    so…..what exactly is a Jewish breakfast anyway?

    also, spell check anyone?

    Love ya!

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