Now before you go thinking the title of this post means I’ve opted to stay in Israel, that’s not the case. Our flight is at am and we thought we could catch a few hours sleep then head for the airport. Turns out we have to be there by 2am, and there are no shared transports available, so we have to catch a cab. The alternative, which is much cheaper, means to drag luggage for a 15 to 20 minute walk to a bus station, then take the bus to a train station in Tel Aviv, then catch the train to the airport – all on no sleep mind you. So a cab it is. And still no sleep. But this trip is worth it.
Today was a nice end to a thoroughly enjoyable time in the land of Israel. We attended my friend PL’s congregation for the Shabbat service. They cantor the entire service, and it is awesome! The message was great. I don’t know the man’s name, but he spoke about this week’s Torah portion (Noach) in relationship to the things going on right now in Israel. The one nugget I came away with had to do with the word gulah verses gaulah (my transliteration, if I am remembering the pronounciation). Gulah means exile, gaulah means redemption/salvation. The difference between the two is an aleph. When I was taking Hebrew (the first of three times) the teacher taught about the aleph. It can mean strong leader (as in abba), it is also echad (the number one in Hebrew). For me, this spoke of God. When we put God in the situation, we go from exile to redemption. Awesome, right?
After service we returned to the hostel for lunch, then into the old city. Maria wanted to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcre. (She didn’t get there on her last visit.) We went to the place they believe is golgotha. Maria pulled out her compass and it was spot on for east (facing the temple. The garden tomb is not.) We got into line to see the tomb, but it was over an hour wait, so we headed to the Tower of David Museum.
The museum contains the history of Jerusalem, and was very interesting. We were scheduled for the 7pm light show (in the museum), and Maria really wanted to see the tomb, so we headed back. After abbout 40 minutes of being in line, hearded so tightely together that I couldn’t even lift my hand to my face, the Coptic brothers started singing (which was beautiful) but then they headed into the tomb for a service. Naturally, tourists couldn’t go in at that time. That was enough for me. I told Maria I would meet her at the Tower and got out into fresh air. Sure did feel good!
At the tower, I met a group of 5 from California. They were celebrating the daughter/god-daughter’s college graduation. We got to talking (with still a 40 minute wait, why not?) One thing was clear from our conversation, like us, they ran into Israeli’s who are feeling alone with the world against them. I don’t know about you, but I’m praying for a way (besides social media) to somehow reach them to let them know there are a ton of us who stand with them, and keep them in prayer.
One other thing we both noted, was the vast difference between the Palestinian area and the Jewish area. It’s sad to say, but the Muslim areas are typically dirty and run down, while the Jewish areas are clean and the buildings maintained. That’s not something that is external, but internal. So much energy is spent on hate, that there doesn’t seem to be anything left to beautify where they live. Just picking up garbage off the street and putting it in garbage cans would go a long way in improving these areas. (Sorry, I just hear all the nonsense being spouted by the media, and it irks me when I see for myself what is going on.)
The night show was as spectacular as I remembered it. The walls come alive with the story of Jerusalem. Words fail in tryin got describe it, so when you are in Jerusalem, be sure to see it.
We headed back to the wall after the show, for one final time of prayer. All I could do was thank God for bringing me here. He reminded me of the commission he gave me, so I prayed for strength to accomplish it, to do it his way, and in his timing.
I couldn’t visit the wall without a stop at Azeret Israel Plaza. I said hello to the guard (who remembered me) and climbed down the stairs to my favorite spot – a stone bench opposite Wilson’s Arch. There, I sang Sue Samuel’s rendition of ‘Oseh Shalom’ and once more thanked my Abba for bringing me to his land and prayed he would bring me back – with my family and my friends.
With our farewell to the Old City, we made our way to the hostel, when we were surprised with our change in plans. We ate dinner (still enjoying our market finds), showered, packed, and now we wait until 1am for our taxi.
I’m glad I could write down my thoughts while still in the city of Jerusalem – with shalom. Soon, there will be the hustle and bustle of transporting home, which could taint the memories of the wonderful last day in the land of Israel – for this trip anyway.
So what do you say. would you like to join me next year in Jerusalem?
Next year in Jerusalem? Well, maybe. Have to think about it.
You really should go, James. They feel so alone there – especially those who are older and not on social media. The more of us who come visit and speak to them, letting them know we care, the better they feel.
I live in south Florida – high tourist industry. When we are hit by hurricanes, or scare of hurricanes, our economy suffers.Same for Israel with war or rumors of war. What better way to show our support than to visit the land and bless the economy?
It was great meeting PL. His congregation was warm and loving. I told him that I hoped you would visit the land soon, and he agreed. You will love it! And your wife will be so blessed to be back in the land with her people.