Taking Time for Religious Reflection

Today is a day off between the Hartman program and my rabbinical convention. And so I decided to walk to the Old City and visit the Tower of David Museum . This site, at the Jaffa gate, is the fortress that was built by the Ottomans in 1517. It was built on top of the Crusader fortress (of the 13th century) which was built on top of the Moslem fortress (of the 7th century)which was built on top of the Roman fortress (of the 1st century) which was built on top of the Hasmonean fortress (from the time of Hanukkah, 2,100 years ago). You get the picture and that's exactly why I love being in Jerusalem! Walking the streets one immediately gets the sense that one is walking in the footsteps of history.
Some gain a sense of spirituality from nature; some get it from personal events (e.g. the birth of a child); others have a constant sense of God around them. My religious sensibility is heightened through study of sacred texts and by walking through history. The Tower of David musuem takes you first to an observation deck to look out over the new and old cities. I spent 15 minutes up there just looking around and soaking in the sites. It never ceases to stop my breath - seeing mosque, next to church, next to ancient Jewish cemetery and new synagogues. Seeing Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, the hills of Jordan in the distance, and new construction. Remebering where I was on my first visit when I was 6 years old, remembering walking the streets when Lenore and I lived here when I was in Rabbinical School, and remembering where I walked with my children.
Walking through the rooms of the museum one is reminded of the ancient biblical references and the establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of King David's kingdom 3,000 years ago. Each room focuses on a different period of history and how the city became the holy city of three world religions. It is exhausting and miraculous at the same time to think of how many were killed in the name of religion here and how many risked their lives just to breathe in the holy air of the city over the centuries.
This visit was important for me today as I took a break from study and synagogue politics and it helped revive me as I prepare to enter the world of rabbinic politics!! I just need to remember that I am in, what the rabbis called, the center of the universe.