Engaging Culture

What We Encountered At Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall

A few years ago, our team filmed around Israel for The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. We interviewed archeologists, researchers, antiquities dealers, and filmed artifacts that date back to Abraham. We also been to the most remote archeological sites, as well as deep into the Palestinian territory to film the remaining community of Samaritans. But no matter how far back into history we go, how deep into the desert, how remote the location, or out of contact the people, we can’t get away from technology.

One day we were filming at the Western or “Wailing” Wall in Jerusalem. You need an official permit to film there, and just in case, we also had Eitan Alon, my longtime friend and Israeli producer with us. It’s no surprise that camera crews aren’t terribly welcome at the Wailing Wall, because the Orthodox Jews are intensely praying. So it didn’t take long for us to be followed by a Rabbi who didn’t look happy. He kept his eye on us, got closer, and just when we thought he was going to kick us out, he asked, “Excuse me, but is that a Canon 5D Mark 3?”

2015-03-25 15.33.58After a short conversation another man started following us with a cap I assumed indicated he was with security. Once again we were on alert, until he asked us the same question, and then started discussing the differences between our Canon and his Nikon.

It happened a third time, but this guy was more interested in what lens we were using.

I can go on and on about Bedouins in the desert with mobile phones, and satellite dishes on the roofs of the poorest neighborhoods, but today we had a real laugh. We went to Nablus, deep in the heart of the Palestinian territory. After driving through checkpoints, we climbed Mount Gerizim, one of the last communities of Samaritans. We were interviewing a priest and director of the Samaritan Museum, a delightful man who’s brother is the high priest of that community. As we were talking, a cell phone rang. We looked around assuming it was us, only to realize it was him. When it rang again a few minutes later, we discovered he carried two mobile phones.

2015-03-26 10.05.14

I’ve been filming in Israel since the late 70’s, and in those days, I would be in the desert for weeks with little contact with the outside world. But today it’s different. Orthodox Jewish Rabbi’s can discuss camera focal lengths, Samaritan Priests have multiple mobile phones, and Bedouins have satellite dishes outside their tents.

The world has changed. The question is – are you sharing your message on a platform they’re watching? Today, it’s not about how you want to send out your message. Today the question is about how they want to receive it.

Get on their wavelength if you want to be successful.

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  1. That must have been quite amusing!! It’s time to get out there and start filming…
    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  2. Wow! What an awesome opportunity we ordinary people have to get the Gospel out across the world and into “closed communities” today without even leaving our houses!

  3. I’m not surprised. Israel is a pretty innovative country especially when it comes to technology. Even before cell phone use was really common I remember learning about how people there ever left without a cell phone (back in the early 2000s when ppl were on the alert for suicide bombings).

    But that is so funny about the rabbis. Jewish people, especially rabbis always have a brilliant sense of humor and don’t always take everything too seriously.

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