Halloween in Jerusalem: On Taking Candy from Strangers

Haloween is still my favorite Holiday, but without kids you don't really get invited to the dress up parties.  No matter, Max and I made our own Halloween fun almost completely inadvertently. 

Friday is Field Trip day and we almost let this one slip by without even leaving our apartment!  At  3:00 we strapped on our walking shoes and took off down the hill towards the old city.  Our initial plan was to check out Mount Zion and the Room of the Last Supper, but because Shabbat was fast arising it donned on us that everything would already be closed.  So we decided to visit the Garden tomb and some of the sites in the Christian/Armenian Quarter that we hadn't seen yet.  I'll write more about the Garden tomb later (which is really a fine site), but for now I'll skip to the spooky.

After staying at the Garden Tomb for an hour or so and sharing a cheese, onion, and tomoto Pizza at Basti Pizza on the Via Dolorosa, we trudged backwards up the Via Dolorosa to try and find Saint Anne's Church.  By this time in the day the sun was almost completely gone, or at least hidden behind heavy rain clouds. We got our first day long cold front here in Jerusalem!  I couldn't have been happier.  It rained and drizzled all day and was absolutely dreary.  Perfect.

So we started winding around through the dark and rainy streets of the Muslim Quarter with very little luck.  In hindsight I'm pretty sure the sight was closed, but it provided an awesome spook ally for Max and me.  The alleys are really narrow and really tall with trees and garbage and all manner of scary things poking out.  Not to mention the exploding feral cat population skittering about beneath our feet and popping out from cracks in the houses.  I literally screamed out loud several times in fear of squashing a rotten cat...who probably deserved it.  We came across several distant gatherings of people which added significantly to the horror.  In the dark we couldn't tell if they were young Arab shabab waiting to capture lost tourists, Israeli Military planning some sort of coup, or just generic hooligans.  It's one thing to be afraid of the dark, or of getting lost, but to add the fear of getting caught in sling shot crossfire (or worse) is something else entirely.

So we gave up on Saint Anne's.  But we were still lost.  Not really lost, we just didn't know where we were on the  map and only generally the area that we needed to go.  It's not normally a problem, but there are some places here that you don't really want to wander into, much less at night.  But as we were walking towards what we thought to be the Damascus gate a Muslim couple with a baby in  stroller pulled up beside us.

"Hello.  Where are you from?  Would you like to come in for tea?"

It was either straight from every horror story you've ever read or the Bible.  Who knew they had similarities!  Turns out it was the Bible.  We explained to them that we didn't drink coffee, but that water would be fine.  So the five of us, two unnamed Arab parents and their little girl, Max and Myself shared a glass of water out on the porch, under the rain drizzles.  How great is that!?  It's absolutely an Arab thing.  At first I thought "I don't know if I'll tell my Mom", but when we didn't die I thought it would be safe to tell.  People just like the share here.  It's like trick or treat every day!     


  1. It looks like I have a lot to catch up on. You and Max live quite the adventurous life. Yes, the hospitality is an Arab thing. One day we got lost out in the desert. We pulled up to a gate that was in front of someone's oasis-like farm. First the worker/servant guy came out and couldn't understand us, so then he called his boss who happened to be one of the land-owning sheiks here. He was very insistant that we should have some tea, but when we told him of our religious rules, he backed off nicely. We couldn't understand his directions on how to get where we were going, so he jumped in his Jeep and led us to our destination, and boy was it hard to keep up with him. Arabs here are pretty heavy on the gas pedal, even off road.

  2. Sounds a littel random to have someone on the street invite you in. Glad you were okay!

  3. If you ever come back, I will totally invite you to a dress-up Halloween party. It might not even need to be Halloween.