Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
We arrived back home Monday mid afternoon. and too think just 18 hours prior I had been at the Western wall saying goodbye.. Now Steve and I are getting back into routine .. and the memories of Israel come flooding back .... All of my life I had been taught about Israel, I have heard about it, read about it, sung about it, but truthfully Israel was no more than a place on the map. I was not really indifferent or anything , even though I thought I understood, the fact is ,no one can understand or know Israel until they are there. Until you hear the pilot say everyone must remain seated we are now in Israeli airspace. Until they exit the airplane into unfamiliar surroundings...Until they walk along Massada,see the streets of Jaffa, see the view from the top of the steps at the Bahai Shrine and walk down 700 of those steps and still be in awe of the beauty that surrounds you, see the bustling streets of Haifa and walk about the markets that wind in and out of the alleys, asking if anyone speaks English and being greeted with a WELCOME TO ISRAEL, is this your first time here? or listening to the Russian woman as she shouts fo Yakov to come over because Yakov speaks English. Tasting the fresh vegetables, and fruits. Smelling the wonderful pastries and breads. Seeing this mix of people selling whatever they have. Knowing that life is not easy for them there.. but it is as if they don't care. For the smile on their faces as we wandered about would never let you know if times are hard. On the surface you might think Haifa is sort of a dirty unkept city.. but when you look , really look you see so much more. You can not know Israel unless you listen to the recording of Ben Gurion declare Israel as a state at the Independence museum in Tel Aviv. See Caesarea and look at the excavations from Roman and Byzantine and Crusader periods and imagine life then. Civilization built upon civilization. . See Akko and visit Rosh Hanikra and see the sea grottos and railroad, and read that moment in history. and when you wander about you see the reality of a tightly guarded border protected by Israeli soldiers. Right there.. so close to you.. a border ... You start realizing bit by bit that though there is so much to see and do.. Israel is surrounded by borders tiny yet strong.. Bustling and busy .... You understand and feel so much more when you sit with a young Israeli soldier and for the first time in perfect English he opens up and tells you the horrors of the Lebanon war. He was in the reserves, and it was a few days before the war was going to end. He and two of his best friends were standing together, they were attacked by rockets, he knew his best friend was gone and he knew his other friend was gone, He could not help them. but he could help himself... He was standing there, with shrapnel in the side of his face and unaware he had shrapnel in his back, he goes for help, only to weather another attack where those helping the wounded from the first attack, are either injured or among the dead. He then decides he must save himself. so he and another young soldier cross the border on foot back to Israel. He collapses and nearly dies in the ambulance. After surgeries, and some counseling he is sent home. I saw a picture of him and his friends.. this young man was a beautiful boy in his early 20s, a glowing smile, Youth at its best. unaware that in short time he would lose those closes to him. Now, though still handsome.. that boyishness is gone..that youth has become unwillingly wise. unwillingly questioning why did he survive and why did his friends die? There were plans.. and dreams all in that youth. there were futures waiting .. children waiting to be created.. and all that was lost.. for nothing.. so when you look in those sweet eyes.. there is a sadness almost a haunted look. Those eyes say so much.. they hold only the pictures he knows.. he replays in his mind during quite times... he has those unanswerable questions.. he is struggling to make peace with it all.. he and I talked .. and talked... and we cried and I listened and understood what Israel means. Far more than just a imprint on a map.. Israel is vibrant and alive with so many souls just like this young man... I asked him , if God forbid, something else happened would he go back and fight again. he said.. I WILL GO . I will go. 3 very powerful words filled with his devotion for Israel and putting aside his personal grief for his country. This young man is related to Steve. We visited Steve's cousins near Safed, They had not seen their cousins in over 30 years .. it was some reunion and it was a blessed moment in my life to talk with this young man. His mother later said to me.. that he seldom talked about what happened let alone talk about it in English. My tears flowed freely because I felt I had been in the company of bravery I had never known. At this family's home as is common where they live, they have a bomb shelter built into the side of the house. Their neighbors house suffered rocket damage during the war. Yet life goes on. His mother who made aliyah over 30 years ago and settled in Israel shared with us .. when she was sending each one of her children to the army. She and her husband have 3 children. Each time she questioned what she had done. Putting her children in such danger, but it is what it is. and in Israel you do what you have to do. This is what is normal. Later that evening we went to a cemetery and prayed at a Tzadeks tomb, the men on one side and the woman on the other. This place is sacred to many and people come at all hours to pray here. the story goes that if you want to meet someone, or get married, or have children or if you just want to pray for a loved one this is where you come. The woman then go up on the roof and walk 7 times around the dome of the tomb. We did that. you would not believe all the scarves and trinkets left by those who had come before us. all tied on the railing that surrounded us.. all that lit our way was the moon light.. no flash lights. We then went and lit candles in this designated area. It was another sacred moment in this unique and wonderful place. When you see the Golan Heights and view the area from Mount Bental. When you see Tiberias and see Beit Alpha Synagogue and see the well preserved mosaic floor. When you see the dead sea and float in the dead sea you suddenly start feeling it. When you travel to Arava to Park Timna and view Solomons Pillars and the ancient copper mines... when you are in the heat of Elat you get it. When you cross the border back into Israel after visiting Petra , a calmness surrounds you yet again..... for your heart knows something your logic does not really understand yet... You have come back home... When you visit Ben Gurin Park and see Latrun and visit the Armoured Corps Museum and see the tanks and watch the films and learn the history it becomes even more clear.. When you visit small religous villages and see the devotion of prayer and see the mixture of the Hassidic and the mixture of the secular walk the streets getting ready for Purim. When the older jewish poor approach you for money. or the Hassidic ask for a donation for this or that. When they give a red thread with a trinket on the end to protect you.. you give them a few shekels in return.. you start knowing it. BUT not until you are immersed in the Old city and see the diversity of religions does it really sink in. I watched the people there.. on the surface you have to ask yourself why are those on the outside trying so hard to rip this apart.. these people seem to get along or at least tolerate each other.. but perhaps underneath they too simmer with resentment.. or just perhaps all they want is peace.. to raise their families do their work.. and live quiet lives ...in my eyes.. I only saw people living daily lives.. doing daily things.. In that , watching all of this around me.. I felt I had time traveled into a world that bubbled with modern energy yet clung to the old ways. We even visited the ultra orthodox neighborhood whose name slips me right now.. No one addressed us and they covered their faces when we walked by. All of us were dressed properly.. yet we were outsiders.. and really not welcomed there.. I understood how they felt.. after all we were the intruders in their neighborhoods.. What struck me there was I felt there was a lack of color.. Everything I saw was black or white or drab or grey .. faces were hidden.. except every now and then a curious glance from a child ..otherwise this area was very stark...Going back to the old city each corner yeilding a new surprise.. In the arab market some sights were not that pleasant ... Goat heads and brains come to mind.. yet turn a corner and the sweet smell of incense beckons you to explore even more... Vivid rich colors.. enticing smells....Winding through the jewish quarter was wonderful.. I wished we could have stayed even longer.Visiting the Western Wall..touching the wall both outside and touring the tunnels and praying on the inside.. Seeing the Kotel and the preperations for shabbat and then seeing it again the following weekday as bar mitzvah after bar mitvah takes place.. Seeing the joy and celebration of my heritage displayed in such vivid color. touring all the quarters.. learning about Christianity in a way I had never known.. understanding things more clearly. This woven tapestry of faith as you wander each quarter is alive and colorful. Even the arab market was fun. Everyone was friendly. I loved visiting the Machanheh Yehuda open air market on Shabbat you could hardly move for all the activity. I loved the Kotel. Seeing Yad Vashem.. no words are neccesary for that experience. Visitng the wonderful Menachem Begin Heritage center. It falls so clearly together. There can not be a world with out Israel. Israel is no longer a place on the map, a place we raise funds for.. Israel is a place in my heart.. and should be a place in all of our hearts. Not just by donation.. but by action and visiting and seeing.. and touching and smelling and tasting and learning.and finally knowing. It is truely a destination EVERYONE must see! Only then do you know Israel.. only then does it make sense. Israel, endless in its rich stories. Complicated and wrapped up in so many different faiths, each staking a claim to something far bigger than itself. Faith, Religion, Denominations of every caliber float around this country. Disagreeing, agreeing, battling, warring, fighting, dieing, all in the name of land and religion. I can tell you that Israel will always be Israel and will not be washed out to sea in the name of Allah or any other entity. For in Israel, this is where you come to be closer to God. One God.. not a God of war, or killing but a God of Peace.. Perhaps if outside forces believed this.. then those inside forces could actually make Shalom Alechiem and Salam Alekim . PEACE~Until the next great adventure... .
We then visited Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyr's and Hero's museum. You enter the museum in limited groups .. You see a film of how life was prior to the war.. then you walk down and see the beginning the room zig zags .. there is no straight walk through in this museum.. from one corner to the other.. you walk.. diving deeper and deeper into this bog of hell. diving deeper and deeper into more than 6 million nightmares.. you watch as worlds and villages and lives and people are torn apart.. you see a side of human nature that will rip into your very core.. and all you do is ask yourself why.. We saw the childrens museum prior to walking into the main area.. there is a candle reflected millions of times.. and all you can see.. is the reflection of this candle and all you can do is ask yourself why??.. and then you think of each of those names as they are read... who would have been a writer, and you see a face.. long gone... who would have been a doctor, and you see innocent eyes...long gone...who would have been a great leader, you see a wise face in youth.. long gone.... who would develop the next big ... nothing.. because .. each of these souls burned for nothing.. for no reason other than hate.. for no reason other than they were jewish.. we lost their future.. we lost those minds.. we lost and they lost all possibility. For nothing. You wind around in the maze of darkness .. and come back into the warmth of the day .. and then you go to the main museum.. as I said.. you do not walk straight through this place.. you go on a journey. You are not alone.. this museum is packed , wall to wall with people.. and each nook you visit you are a little annoyed by all the people around you because you just want to read .. and see.. and then you start thinking maybe they put so many people at a time in here so one can understand how the ghettos felt.. crowded .. no room .. you looked around you .. and looked at the kids visiting and you could not help but wonder as they played with cell phone cameras.. or joked with their friends.. did this generation get it.. Does this generation see.. Tourists there.. seem to understand... and perhaps these young people understand in their own way.. because toward the middle of the museum.. it was more quiet .. and as you studied displays or watched a short snippet of history play out on screen.. you saw them watching too.. you walk through each facet until you end up in liberation.. even then the struggle was not over.. For some there were remnants of families .. for others they were orphans..no one.. only them left.. .. when you exit the building you see a magnificent view of jerusalem... and the breeze of the day brings you back into the current moment.. so you stand there for a while and reflect on what you have seen..
We toured more through out the day Seeing the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls.. while all was interesting.. and incredible to see.. Yad Vashem and Seeing the Hadassah hospital a glimpse of a past and a glimpse of the present and future.. stayed with me through out the day...
The next day.. we toured through various neighborhoods in Jerusalem .. On Friday Many Moslems go to Prayer at their local Mosques .. It is very busy and the streets are crowded as the men walk to the various Mosques... cars are parked on sidewalks .. during that time we toured rather quickly a couple palestinian neighborhoods.. well with out going into too much detail.. they need garbage pick up service BADLY.. I could not get over how filthy the area was .. garbage and more garbage.. we saw the barrier wall up and went back over to the other side.. though battered and old in some areas.. it was clean.. During the day we also toured an ultra orthodox neighborhood.. I can not say the people were friendly as they covered their faces when they saw us.. ( as not have curiousity about visitors in their neighborhood.)
We went to the Machaneh Yehuda open-air Market .. it was so busy and fun.. people were busily getting ready for Shabbat ( jewish Sabbath) here you heard the bellows once again of good shabbos.. Everything you could imagine was here too...
We went to the Western wall after all of this..and here is a live cam shot of the wall... it was so much more than I expected .. and so much smaller an area than I ever thought.. for some reason I thought it was a very large area.. but it really is not.. We went through security again... and then The men went in on one side and the women on the other.. We covered our heads and waiting our turn to tuck our notes in the crevices of this holy place. It is custom to write prayers on small pieces of paper and tuck them in the wall.. I had six small notes.. that I tucked into a crevice near the ground.. every where you looked notes were tucked. IT was Shabbat so it was starting to get a little busy at the wall.... we said our prayers and left.. Saturday we went back to the old city for a walking tour.. winding in and out and up and down alley ways and stairways.. through the Jewish Quarter , the Christian Quarter, The Armenian Quarter and the Muslim quarter .. a tapestry of religions... We walked through the Arab Market... between friendly remarks of ~ I know I have just what you want.. or ~Hey you wanna shop in my store... ~ the Arab market was an adventure ..Sunday.. we visited the Mt. of Oives and walked down.. the view from the top was amazing.. we walked down the VERY STEEP slope stopping periodically to look at points of interest.. we found our way back into the Old city... and we visted the Davidson Archaeological Center and here .. we toured the Western wall Tunnels .. On of my favorite museums was the Menachim Begin Heritage Center .. ..
Monday was left to us.. We spent our day getting lost in the twist and turns of the Old City..we wandered back to the Wall.. it was very crowded.. Bar mitzvah after Bar mitzvah was going on.. Dancing and singing too.. Rebecca and I finally were able to get on the womens side.. say a prayer at the wall and then go over and stand on a chair to watch what was going on on the mens side... Since this was not shabbat it was fine to do this.. Women were throwing Candy over on the mens side.. as celebration after celebration took place.. there were wedding blessings going on.. it was so happy .. and joyous.. at one point I was standing alone waiting for Steve and I struck up a conversation with this guy unloading a truck... we talked about Israel and we talked about the wall and how busy it gets. he explained that Monday and Tuesday were busy Bar Mitzvah days... so I could see.. as I stood there Alone.. it occured to me.. that I really was not alone .. I could strike up a conversation and since most folks had some command of the english language it was fairly easy to do.. .. We walked and walked and finally decided we should head back to the hotel .. since we would be boarding a plane soon.
On a side note we loved the Ben Yehuda Street area.. here are just a few things you might see there.. on any given day ...or night...Ethiopian Drum Circle , Someone Dancing with Fire, Singing and Dancing , Harpist ( we actually saw her) and then there is always Jerusalem reggae style
I miss Israel.. I miss it all.. .. From the top.. to the middle to the bottom.. Golan, Jerusalem, Negev... AM YISRAEL CHAI ( .. The people of Israel Live) ...
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Coming next Jerusalem..
We took the cable car up and walked around.. As we rode up we noticed people on the snake path coming down .. several folks were stopping and resting .. it was a very HOT DAY to be going up or down Masada on foot. On top of Masada the view is incredible.. you can see the Dead sea and surounding areas.. To think of the history on this lone mountain fortress. Some call it bravery .. some call it cowardess. When you think.. of the history.. built on this mountain.. by hand.. ... it was no easy task I am sure back then to do such work.. If you are so blessed to see the detail of the ruins left behind.. to see the detail and workmanship.. it is amazing to think what was done.. and to invision.. that at those last final hours.. the choices these people had to make.. SLAVERY or die FREE... You decide.
Solomon's Pillars and the ancient copper mines were pretty interesting too.. you could look down on the ground and find all sorts of sandstone with copper viens running through. Walking through the area and seeing the mushroom shaped formation developed by years of winds and erosion was pretty interesting.. Grasping .. that this all happened so long ago too still seemed a bit mystifying..
The hotel Agamim Hotel was really nice in Eilat.. Monday we traveled to Petra , IF you are familiar with the Indiana Jones movies you will recognize the temple area .. that was really cool to see in person.. not just because of the movie but the way it is carved out of the mountain its amazing... One thing you ran across a lot on your journey down were people.. poor folks asking for money or selling everything from colorful rocks.. to colored sand in bottles.. to trinkets and jewelry. I had one little girl want to sell me a rock.. when I refused she gave it to me.. I tried to give it back and she was quiet the little con artist. U know.. you are beautiful she said to me.. and she followed me around lavishing compliment after compliment saying her rock is a gift.. however she stayed with me until I gave her a few shekels or dollars.. they were a little on the agressive side but not to seriously annoying. I guess everyone has to make a dollar.. the odd thing was we only saw this on the way down .. not on the way back up.. This 7 mile hike.. collided with me not feeling so well.. we had to stop at a pharmacy and get some meds to sooth my poor tummy.. Still did the walk though.. down and up.. Very interesting to say the least...
We spent Tuesday our off day relaxing at the hotel and going for a walk in Eilat.. it was sweltering hot so the bulk of the day was spent by the pool.. the water was freezing cold but it felt wonderful.. The pool wraps around the courtyard of the hotel.. Eilat is considered a beach town.
and so the adventure continues...
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
We walked over to a musuem which houses a boat which is believed to have carried Jesus or been a fishing boat in that time.
Our journey continues with a visit to an ancient town that houses a synagogue
built in 341 with a mosaic floor . Once again I it is hard to grasp such history laying before our eyes. We explored more ruins at Beit She'an as we made our way down to the Dead Sea.. Everyone loves the Dead Sea its a unique experience .. you will not go under if you get in the water.. and because it is so salt dense it holds you up.. its weird like a life jacket.. and its kinds slimy feeling too.. Supposedly its good for your skin... HELLO.. not in my world... after about 5 minutes being in .. my skin started burning.. I had to get out and rinse off under the shower for a while.. hmmm guess my body does not like the Dead Sea very much... my skin still is recovering.. To get to the The Dead Sea, we went to the Public Beach since the Spa area was about to close.. We walked down the rocky beach.. and made our way to the edge of the Dead Sea.. it was pretty cold and thick feeling Here is a place , I have always heard about.. and now it was laying before me.. you could see to the bottom and as you walked out the ROCKS became mummified in Salt.. THICK SLABS OF SALT with ragged edges and smooth curves.. like under water slippery hills.. It was like trying to walk on ice.. slick and in some areas sharp... You had to get down and sort of crab walk over the mounds of Salt because they were so slick once you got over the mounds..you were out into the water and you floated.. as is evident by the above picture. It was really bizzare and had my skin not stung so bad I would have stayed there longer....Not sure if I would get back in.. and the best advice I can give is.. if you have any nicks or cuts on your skin.. skip the Dead Sea... after the Dead Sea we returned to the Kibbutz and had dinner .. the day had been tiring so we headed to bead... The journey continues....
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Display of Veggies
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
DAY ONE ~Travel is always an adventure, though we travel via motorcycle with a certain amount of ease, travel via air is totally different. From security, to finding your gate, to praying you wont be next to a screaming child or screaming adult for that matter. One of the sweetest moments on the flight was hearing the pilot announce we are now entering Israeli Airspace. Yet by enduring that 11 -13 hour flight one is given so many rewards as your plane touches the ground.. Israel is yours. We arrived in Israel, precisely, Tel Aviv a little bit later than planned. We made our way through security and baggage to be greeted by staff that led us to a waiting taxi for the hotel.
Once at the hotel we met up with Stuart and Dianne and walked the windy chilly streets to a wonderful little cafe called OLIVE. the food was amazing.. the israeli salad was perfect and the chicken even better, granted we had just been eating airplane food for the last 11 hours so anything would be devine compared to that. We wandered back to our hotel and I was taken with the simpleness of where we were staying. Israel is not abundent in random luxury. We had small rooms, even smaller bathrooms , Israeli hotels do not provide wash clothes this too was a interesting difference between American hotels and Israeli ones.
Tel Aviv is a very young city. Sparse in glitz yet sophisticated and fun. One thing I noticed about Tel Aviv is that most of the folks around us were younger than we were. I seldom saw an older person while there. I wish we had had more time to peruse the city but many great adventures awaited our arrival...
We had a busy day coming up so it was off to bed .. as it is off to bed for me now.. here are a few pictures I have added to my flickr sight will be adding many more pictures as well as building up the blog.. check back often.
Friday, March 14, 2008
I will attempt to post from Israel... not sure I will be able too in which case I will POST A LOT when I get back in the states... WOW in the states.. I love saying that.. obviously you can see I am a novice world traveler lol.. this is going to be a very interesting trip to say the least.. I have my ipod loaded with great music 15 days of songs.. I also have a couple of cool games to play loaded on the ipod as well...
Will post again on our return..
Ready or not!
Here we come!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
HERE WAS THE NEWS FROM ISRAEL : TERRORIST ATTACK
IT WILL ALWAYS BE HARD TO UNDERSTAND THIS MENTALITY .. THIS MENTALITY THAT BREEDS SUCH HATE FOR NO REASON ... THESE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND ONE THING.. KILLING, THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR LIFE, NO RESPECT FOR THE INNOCENT , NO RESPECT FOR THEMSELVES.. SOMEONE ALONG THE WAY HAS TAUGHT THEM THAT IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO KILL AND IT IS A GREAT HONOR TO BE KILLED .. FACT IS IT IS NOT A GREAT HONOR TO KILL OR BE KILLED OR KILL YOURSELF .. My opinions run deep on this issue.. and in short.. I doubt anything over there will ever change.. for these Arabs or whatever you want to call them.. only want one thing.. for Israel to be wiped off the map.. they do not want their own state.. and those that think that, are just as ignorant as those that believe that some god will award them great lavish gifts for murdering those who do not believe as they do. These people.. want nothing more than for Israel to fall to its death.. flesh by flesh.. thats what they want.. we should always be aware of that so our fight our real fight against this terrorism means something.. We are fighting against the Annihilation of Israel and the Annihilation of us as well...dramatic maybe?.... but I believe these people will not stop unless they are stopped.. thats what I think the truth is.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Those are the additions I had not mentioned before..
I simply can not believe that this adventure is finally less than a month away..
God Willing we will get to make this wonderful trip... I just can not wait until we are walking around and seeing this historically awesome place...
Bit by bit we are getting ready and organized. I found a travel purse I like and a messenger bag that is not too big so that is good
I treated myself to a bunch of travel size goodies, hand sanitizer, tums, advil, lotion.. etc... Knowing me I will start packing roughly one week before the trip.. .. just to be as organized as we possibly can.. I think in the long run that makes it easier...
Any packing tips are much appreciated...
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
My Brother In law Fred and sister in law Dianne have created this amazing adventure!~~
We fly in to Ben Gurion Airport
De La Mer Hotel
We will be touring Tel Aviv and Jaffa
Meir Shfeya Youth Aliyah village.
MOUNT OF OLIVES
I am still reading about all of these places.. there are several other places we will be visiting through out our stay but this gives a nice over view of everything...
*****I will post TONS of pictures upon our return .. if there was a way I would post them as we go.. but I will be PCless for 2 weeks.. YIKES!!!
Monday, January 7, 2008
It is a pretty small place in the grand scheme of things don't you think..???
I will be visiting there in March... I am very excited about this trip... We are very excited about this trip.. Neither Steve nor I have every been. I can only imagine the history I will see.. and I wonder how it will affect me.. I wonder what perspective will I take. I wonder how my religious self will feel. I wonder what will touch me the most... Will it be the Wall, will it be Hadassah hospital and seeing the amazing facility. Will it be the people? the music? Will I see a whole new view on Judaism.??? Will I see people living their religion like one puts on a pair of blue jeans? comfortable ?? What will I learn and bring home with me. A new sense of faith? A better understanding on what Israel really means?? This tiny bit of a country, so deeply rooted in history ... that men and women battle for it... war after war... death after death.. just so this tiny place on the planet can survive... so powerful that it creates arguments heard around the world in daily conversation with strangers... . Will I see just another piece of adopted western civilization? Or a combination of faiths trying just to survive ? A place where some wonder how much longer will it exist.. ? A place that will survive until the end of time? I wonder all of these things.. what will I see, what lessons will I take with me.
I look forward to visiting Yad Vashim, I look forward to celebrating Purim there ( I think we will be there during this time) I look forward to a shabbat or two there..mostly , I look forward to being with family and sharing this experience together. Everyone else going has been there before... so it will wonderful to not only develop our own opinions but see this all through their eyes as well.