Monday, April 11, 2016

Is Wall Climbing Tourism Appropriate in Jerusalem's Old City?

ג' לחודש הראשון תשע"ו
YNET: Rappel down the old city walls
A new attraction is coming to Jerusalem's old city this Passover. In conjunction to the world famous old city wall tour, visitors will be able to rappel down the walls as well. 
Eli Mandelblum, 04.09.16 
Israelis and tourists from all over the world will descend upon Jerusalem during the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Jerusalem Development Authority and East Jerusalem Development LTD have come up with a new and interesting attraction for visitors to the old city this holiday season, repelling down the side of the Old City walls. 
Although this idea sounds relatively simple in theory, it is quite complicated, especially in light of the security situation and concerns about damage to the archaeological sites.
Old City Walls, Jerusalem
"This (attraction) requires many permits from the different organizations and ministries who are responsible for the area. It even requires a special type of harness so that will protect the archaeological site from damage, but also not detract from the repelling experience," stated Roee Menes, CEO of the "B'marom" company which will be operating the attraction.

Besides rappelling, there will be a wide range of attractions in the Old City throughout the Passover holiday, including tours along the top of the Old City walls with a bird's eye view of the Old City and their juxtaposition with the new city, and an interactive area where visitors can learn how the Old City walls were constructed. This is a fun and challenging attraction for the whole family to do, literally putting you in touch with history. The minimum age to participate is nine-years-old.

There are two tracks to take, a north and a south track. The south track starts at Jaffa Gate and goes to the Dung Gate. Meanwhile, the north track starts at Jaffa Gate and ends at the Lions Gate. Tickets can be bought at the Jaffa gate.

The Old City wall tours are open from 9am to 5pm. Keep in mind, this attraction is not wheelchair accessible. The tour takes approximately an hour.
Esser Agaroth (2¢):
At first glance, this newfangled, tourist attraction seems like something you would find at an American amusement park. Wall climbing and rappelling have become increasingly popular over the years. And, now it seems that Jerusalem wants to get into the act as well.

Wall Climbing complex, HaYarqon Park, Tel-Aviv

To attract a broader base of tourists? Young tourists, who would otherwise avoid such a richly religious and historical site? Is this supposed to be a clever way of showing parts of Jerusalem's Old City, which would normally be overlooked? Or is someone just gunning to make a buck sheqqel anyway that he can?

Anyway you slice it, the addition of rappelling to the Jewish People's Holiest city cheapens it, lowering it to the level of base, material gratification.

But, as often is the case, perhaps there is something to be gleaned from such acts of denigration.

After all, how did the spies, whom Yehoshu'a sent, escape from Jericho? They climbed down from Rahav's window... (Josh. 2:15)

Those paying attention will notice this as a strong suggestion that we need to be prepared, and rappelling may actually be valuable skill in the not too distant future.

And so, I suggest that anyone insisting on taking this opportunity to rappel down a wall of Jerusalem's Old City, after touring its rooftops, do so with the kavannah (intention) of learning or practicing a lifesaving skill.

Think about it.

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