Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Holy Land Pilgrimage Day 43

Today was a normal class day. I love reading the great first homilies of St. Peter and hearing the stories of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles. For our architecture class we were given the assignment of going to measure some columns on various buildings throughout the city. We had a drawing to see who would go where. I am supposed to go climb up and measure the circumference of the outside of the Dome of the Rock. Just kidding. I’m actually measuring some column near the Holy Sepulcher and our teacher already assured us that he checked with the people to whom these columns belong and promised us we would not be arrested while doing our homework.

At sunset today we went down to the Wailing Wall in the Jewish quarter to observe how the Jews celebrate the beginning of the Sabbath, or Shabbat as it is correctly pronounced in Hebrew. This was a really neat experience. There were lots of people from all ages gathering at the wall in what was really almost like a big party. There’s no organization to it. People come and get together in groups and do some prayers which involve some singing and dancing. The teenage groups were really enjoying their singing and dancing while the old folks were up closer to the wall praying very reverently. I met some very nice Jews who helped explain things to me. They encouraged me to join a group and start dancing, but I think I’ll wait until next week for that. It was very refreshing to see so many people coming together to pray and also to have fun. We need something like this back in the United States. I’d love to get together to sing songs about God and pray and just have fun more often. We need to come together as a Christian community more than just for Mass. The beginning of Shabbat was a real social event here as well as a religious event. Maybe I’ll even work on my dancing for next week. Then again, maybe I’ll just start with joining some prayers. Shabbat Shalom…Good Sabbath.

Shabbat
Sundown Friday at the Western Wall, The Beginning of Shabbat 

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