Friday, January 6, 2012

The Center

Right now it is 4:50 AM in Jerusalem and I am sitting in BYU's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies overlooking the Old City. Even as I type I can hear the Muslim prayers that consume the city's airwaves every few hours echoing through the city from megaphones strategically placed in high towers.

A picture I took of the Jerusalem Center while
walking into the Old City today.
Insomnia has allowed me time to explore the center, and it is quite the sight to see. Located on a hill overlooking all of Jerusalem (Mount Scopus to the Israelis, or, the Mount of Olives to the Palestinians--yes, the Mount of Olives just a stones throw from the Garden of Gethsemane), the center is unparalleled in architectural design of the surrounding area. Every level of the center is designed to have a stunning view of the Old City, the most prominent landmark being the Dome of the Rock looming not to far in the distance.

The main auditorium on the 8th level of the center exhibits a panoramic view of the old city, making it difficult to focus on whoever is speaking. Along with the view is an organ, which has been used during the weekly concerts that are open to Jerusalem's public. In fact, this week the organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Brother Richard Elliot, will be performing a special concert commemorating 25 years since the organ was built.

This is what I pictured Jerusalem to look like.

The Center has become our home. Each day, all 83 students get up together, eat breakfast together, go to classes together, go on field trips together, and then hang out with one anther in the evening. It's strange to live so close with everyone, but we are becoming friends so quickly! I found it only slightly odd that this morning I was lifting weights with one of my professors just an hour or so before class. Odd, yet kind of fun at the same time. Part of the Jerusalem Center experience is to create lasting friendships, and I feel like I've already started down that path.

Love,

Mark

The gang last night. I am sitting in the front left.

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous facility you are enjoying! I really liked seeing it from Jerusalem, looking back. I hope you enjoy the organ concert/recital--- what an opportunity! Thanks, too, for posting the photo of "the gang". It will be nice to get a group shot every so often! Keep studying and having fun-- and enjoy your Sabbath day tomorrow (Saturday). Love you bunches! xoxo

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