March 28, 2012- Jerusalem
After a week of traveling together as a group, we have finally arrived in Jerusalem. Over the past 7 days we have covered a lot of geographic, philosophical, spiritual and intellectual territory. Our travels have taken us from the modern metropolis of Tel Aviv, to the pioneering spirit of the Negev, to the mystic streets of Tzfat and the beauty of the Galilee, to the majestic vistas of the Golsn Heights. We are physically exhausted, but spiritually exhilarated as we prepare to explore the holy city of Jerusalem.
It would take more time than I have to write this blog to share every detail of every day of our trip. To give you a small taste of our travels, I will share what we did today with you.
We woke up early at our kibbutz guest house - Kibbutz Lavi - in the Galilee and drove to the Golan Heights. We travelled up to Gamla - the site of an ancient Jewish comminunity from the Roman period and gazed down at the beautiful site of the oldest synagogue ever discovered in Israel. We learned about its significance to the Revolt against Rome. We then travelled thousands of years in time to Tel Saki - where we met with one of the true heroes of the Yom Kippur War - Nir Atir - who, in 1983, commanded a small group of Israeli Tanks - the 188th brigade - and was given the impossible task of holding off the Syrian Army until Reservists could come to fill the gap in the IDF's vastly outnumbered forces. Nir's story of bravery, valor, courage and loss was very moving. From there, we left the North and travelled up to Maaleh Adumim - a neighborhood outside of Jerusalem. There we met with a family of Ethiopian Jews who told us the incredible story of their painstaking journey from Ethiopia to the Sudan and Israel in order to fulfill their ancient dream of returning to their homeland - Eretz Yisrael.
From there, we travelled to Har Ha-Tzofim- Mt. Scopus - to get our first glimpse of Jerusalem and then we went to the Kotel (the Western Wall) as a group to experience it for the first time as a group - this won't be the last time we journey to the Kotel - but it might be the most profound. After leaving the Kotel, we checked into our hotel and had dinner on our own.
Some of you have expressed concerns about the upcoming "March on Jerusalem" scheduled for this Friday. For those who aren't familiar with this , it basically is an event organized by a consortium of sworn enemies of Israel - as well as a few mis-guided leftist extremists. Their goal is to organize a march on Jerusalem in order to call attention to the plight of the Palestinians.
I find it ironic that some of the organizers of this march - representing Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, to name a few, are THEMSELVES responsible for more misery for the Arab populace than Israel could ever dream. At the same time that thousands of innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered in Syria - just across the border from Israel, these activists are organizing a march for the rights of the Palestinians. Why is the Arab world so silent when it comes to Syria and so vocal when it comes to the Jewish State?
I have no idea what, if any impact this day may have on our plans this Friday - we will see. One important thing that we, as American Jews, can do in response is to participate in "Buy Israeli Goods" day this Friday.
Right now, I need to get some sleep, so I will end this rambling post here.
Shalom M'Yirushalayim - Shalom from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Joe Black