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New Years Eve. Today is 12/31/09 in Jerusalem


Leave for the Russian Orthodox Church knowing it may be a difficult shoot (signs saying no cameras are always an indication)

After 4 shots I am told no photos.

I try explaining but the gentleman doing his job only speaks Russian and manages, “church is for praying” in English. I tell him I am praying and ask to speak to someone …he only speaks Russian.

I put the camera away and sit in one of the chairs in front of a side alter. A few minutes go by and the man hands me a phone to talk to Sister Elena. She asks me to email some samples of my work and what I am using the photos for… possible permission for another day,.

I am thankful and give the phone back.

I continue the days plan walking on to the Ethiopian Church.

It is quiet inside the Ethiopian Church, and unique. I spend an hour inside the small church rich in paintings of Virgin and child under a blue domed roof spanning pink columns.

Next stop, Mea She’arim, the older community of Orthodox Jews.

I am warned to be cautious when coming here, as they do not take well to having their photos taken.

On Mea She’arim Street, I am eyeballed suspiciously and at times avoided by pedestrians as if I am a leper, it is an odd feeling. Oddly, I am not finding much to photograph. Old people, beggars and Orthodox Jews are not as interesting to me now as they once were as subjects.

I smell a bakery and make my way to it. My new delights are fresh backed breads. I buy a couple bagels and a couple chocolate crescents (they are small like cookies). The bagels are great but the chocolate pastries were better from the Palestinian bakery at the top of the Mount of Olives yesterday.

I head to the shuk (Mahane Yehuda), the outdoor market. Take a lot of photos there (not sure what I will use them for).

I am generally feeling I am finished here in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow morning, I will try the Hospital church tomorrow, making the trek up the Mount of Olives, one more time to the top. But that is tomorrow.

Walking back to the Old City via Yaffa Road I stop at the post office where I will pick up a package from Joel (of XS gear and drinks for some photo play). Dave and Sarah are sponsors and I offered to have some fun with their products here in Jerusalem.

At the central post office, I unpack for security and try to figure out how to take a number for the waiting line. The man behind me is kind enough to help; he is an American. We end up talking and it turns out he is a Jew who made Aliyah – was raised in Atlantic City and spent much of his time in the Bay Area of Northern California – he is also a street preacher feeling called to preach the Gospel to the Jewish and Arab people. He has been here 4 years. His name is Leonard, or, Ariel Shalom.

When my number is called, I show my passport and pay 35 shekels to get my package (customs fee) and afterward, Leonard and I talk for about an hour. His knowledge of the scriptures is vast, he has been through seminary and used to minister as a social worker in the Bay Area.

Listening to Leonard I realize how much I have forgotten and think It would do me well to get back into some Bible Study.

I promise to call him for getting together next week before I go and we part. I head back to the convent to work.

Dinner with Nils and Barbara consists of laughs and stories of their travels among the Sister’s convents, meetings with Pope John Paul II and Sister Tekla, three bottles of wine and an after dinner Cuban cigar on the front steps looking across the Kidron Valley at the Dome of the Rock lit up under the night sky.

It is an interesting day and I retire before midnight. Tomorrow is 2010.

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