Day 10 – Wednesday October 25 – A Joyous Closing
Day 9 – Tuesday October 24 Tel Aviv Eye Opener
We had spoken much during this past week about the self sacrifice of Israel’s early pioneers and the ultimate sacrifice that was made by so many young people from the days of the British Occupation until today.
Our group toured Tel Aviv today and I needed to pray Mincha, the afternoon prayer. I walked to Tel Aviv’s Great Synagogue. There were no services taking place at the time but I still wanted to pray. Looking for a spot, something caught my attention. At the front of the synagogue where the leader leads the service I noticed on the cover the Hebrew words age 20 on an inscription.
I felt drawn to it and prayed nearby. When I came back to the bus I shared my experience with my wife Esther and together we read the inscription on from a photo that I took. We were awestruck when we realized that the Yahrzeit of young Erez Neeman is tonight!
At tonight’s Maariv service in Jerusalem, I felt emotionally attached to Erez and said Kaddish for him.
In fact I realized that I am able to enjoy and experience Israel because of the ultimate sacrifice made by Erez and countless others. Unlike the Dead Sea, which is truly dead, Erez and others like him, in a sense continue to live, because they continue to give.
Am Yisroel Chai!!!
Day 8 – Monday October 23 Dead or Alive?
Today we journeyed south to Massada, Ein Gedi and Yam Hamelech.
Yam Hamelach is the Salt Sea which we know today as the Dead Sea. The name Salt Sea is certainly appropriate because the sea is so salty that you cannot sink in it even if you try.
But what make the Dead Sea Dead? The Jordan River which flows forth from the hills and mountains of the Golan Heights flows into the Kinneret, which is in Tiberias .The Kinneret flows again into the Jordan. As the Jordan continues southward it feeds the Dead Sea. However, the Dead Sea does not feed any other river.
The Dead Sea takes but does not give. It is no coincidence that the Dead Sea is situated in the heart of what was once Sodom and Gommorah, the cities where acts of kindness were illegal and even punishable by death. The name dead sea is totally accurate.
Day 7 -Sunday October 22
In Chevron (Hebron) 3693 years ago our forefather Avraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah and the field around it as a family burial place. He buried Sarah there.
Later Avraham himself as well as Yitzchok and Rivka and Yaakov and Leah were buried there. The City of Chevron is where our forefathers lived.It is the place where King David lived before Jerusalem.
Day 6 – A Divinely Ordained Shabbos!
We joined hundreds of Jews from every single background you can imagine as we ushered in the Shabbos at the Western Wall. Afterwards we walked back to our hotel through the four century old Arab marketplace then through the modern upscale Mamilla Mall that was completely closed honoring the Shabbos, then through King David Street to our hotel.
We planned our Israel experience to spend Shabbos at the King Solomon Hotel in Jerusalem. Unbeknownst to us, our granddaughter’s future in-laws planned the aufruf, pre wedding celebration, honoring the groom to be held at the King Solomon Hotel at the very same time. It was obviously divinely orchestrated that we and our Tucson group all be present to participate with our children in this momentous occasion.
Day 5 – Friday – Erev Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan – October 20
From the City of King David to Modern Times
Today’s adventure brought to life the beautiful verse from Lecha Dodi, “The city will be rebuilt on top of its ruins”. This is sung by Jews all over the world each Friday evening. Although composed in the 1700’s, it’s prophetic words describe the way in which Jerusalem will be rebuilt.
For years worshipers and visitors going to the Western Wall would park their cars at the parking lot near the entrance of the Old City. Just a few years ago archaeologists postulated that beneath it there might be some remnant of the past. To their astonishment their digging unearthed three thousand years of homes built one on top of the other. This site left us awestruck.
We were thrilled to walk through a tunnel which had once been a waterway below the street on which our ancestors walked to go to the Bais HaMikdash – the Holy Temple. After emerging from the tunnel we walked on that actual street. What a privilege! We sensed the presence of generations gone by and our responsibility to retell their story and our story to the generations to come.
Day 4 – October 19 — A Lone Whispering Flower
Our guide retold a story from The Jerusalem Talmud of two great sages who many centuries ago were walking thru Arbel. Upon seeing sunrise they declared that the redemption of the Jewish People will take place exactly like the rising sun: First there is darkness then slowly small rays of light appear and then glorious radiance.
Day 3 – October 18 — The Mountain Encounter
Today we hiked to the top of Mount Meron, the second highest peak in Israel. We marveled at the scenic panorama of the Galilee and the Lower Golan Heights. Wanting to commemorate the moment, Rabbi looked for someone to take a photo of our group and found a volunteer.
In Israel we take every opportunity to make new friends. Rabbi engaged our “friendly photographer” in conversation. He told us that he is a Druze and was atop of the mountain today, serving as security guard for a school hike. He proudly shared with us that the Druze police officer Zidan Saif, who courageously gave his life saving worshipping Jews at the tragic Har Nof attack in 2014 was his friend and neighbor. He further told us that two of his sons served in the IDF and his youngest is presently a Commando. He himself also was wounded serving on the Jerusalem Security Border Police. Rabbi emotionally gave him a big hug and thanked him for his inspiration and courage. At a time when so many people around the world seem to dislike us, on top of a mountain we learned that there are those who deeply love us.
Day 2 – October 17 — Milky Way
Our trip could not have started better. We feel the presence of
We took a jeep ride to view the Lower Golan Heights in all its splendor and beauty. Later our group was treated to a captivating firsthand video at the site of what is considered to be a modern day David and Goliath story when the mighty Syrians were defeated by a small Israeli tank force in the Upper Golan Heights.
Our stops included the Robotic Milking Farm on Moshav Avnei Eitan. Their 70 cows are milked electronically by a robot called, “The Astronaut.” The system was designed around the cow, and is completely automated, even determining how much milk is collected and how much food the animal ate during the process. Surprisingly, the cows line up of their own will to be milked.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
Day 1 – October 16 — We Arrived!
With just five minutes until landing at Ben Gurion airport, I looked out my tiny airplane window and realized how blessed I am to be in Eretz Yisroel surrounded by students and friends who I love and care about so much. Rabbi and I are fortunate to be taking our third group, with one making the trip from Las Vegas to join us.
Since some members of our group waited two years to see “Where the Past Shapes Your Soul”, three flights and 26 hours later seems like a small investment of time by comparison.
This is the first time for three in our party, and I know what a moving experience Eretz Yisroel will be for them. As they take in this special land, I will be seeing it anew through their eyes.
Thank You, Hashem, for giving me the opportunity to be so close to You here in Israel. I thank You for making Rabbi Becker and me your messengers to share Eretz Yisroel with this special group of people!
— Esther Becker