|The Old City of Jerusalem|
According to Carol’s Fitbit, we got 20,000+ steps in today. We walked ALL OVER the Old City of Jerusalem. Just after 9am, we took the bus there from Bethlehem. Twelve hours later we are back at our apartment, and sitting has never felt so good.
|Talking business with the Karakashian family|
Today was a mixture of business and fun. We had the entire day to explore Jerusalem, seeing a few of the sites (Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Western Wall) while hunting for new items for Pal Craftaid’s inventory. Presently, most of what we sell (at church sales, conferences, and online) is Palestinian olive wood and needlework. The most exciting connection we made today was with an Amenian-Palestinian family that produces some of Jerusalem’s best pottery, as well as handmade silver jewelry. We had a great time getting to know the husband, wife, and their teenaged daughter. Kirsten, in our group, actually knows one of their cousins, who lives in the US. Small world!
Dinner tonight was a delicious traditional Palestinian meal with Nathan Stock, who works for The Carter Center as the Jerusalem Field Office Director. Nathan’s wife, Kate Taber, is the PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker in Israel/Palestine. Kate couldn’t join us for dinner as she is currently accompanying another group of visiting Presbyterians in the Galilee area.
Nathan’s work requires that he is constantly up-to-date on the situation in Israel/Palestine from all angles and perspectives. He travels to Gaza every few weeks and is in regular contact with a number of individuals – Israeli and Palestinian – at various levels of government. In the course of our conversation, Nathan shared that there have been no conflict-related fatalities on either side in the past two weeks – the longest ‘streak’ of this nature in six months.
After a wonderful dinner, we started the journey home, having to switch taxis at the Bethlehem checkpoint due to the fact that the mobility of Palestinians is restricted according to where your ID card says you live. If you live in Jerusalem, you cannot cross into Bethlehem, and vice versa (unless you apply and are approved for a special work-related permit).
On deck for tomorrow: meeting with some of our established artisan partners in Bethlehem.