Rock, Wall, Tomb
We are a group of students representing different academic disciplines and religious/spiritual traditions, and we have met weekly over the course of the semester to explore Jerusalem as an epicenter of religious pilgrimage. In particular, we chose to focus our study on three Old City sites that are central to the Abrahamic traditions: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Kotel (Wailing Wall), and Haram al Sharif (al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock). The course culminated in a spring break trip to Jerusalem (including five students and three faculty) during which we visited and revisited each of these sites, together and individually. The opportunity to make firsthand observations, interact with diverse locals and visitors, and experience “sacred” spaces through sight, sound, smell, and touch, transfigured our perspective on the Jerusalem we had constructed academically. Through physically engaging with the sites, and exploring their complex histories and politics, we gained a more nuanced and personal understanding of what it means to be a pilgrim. Since returning to campus, we have been collaborating to create a multimedia website that captures our personal and academic reflections. In addition, we are currently producing a syllabus to be used for a future Davidson course on these topics.