Good evening everyone. Sorry I missed a day but I just ran out of time and steam. This has been our last night in Jerusalem. I will try to cover two days worth of history. Jerusalem is all about fighting for history. Whether it is an ancient relic demonstrating our presence two millennium ago or the battle ground of Ammunition Hill in the 67 war we have learned that history is just as precious as water in the Middle East.
Yesterday we set out to visit Masada. Of course we paid homage to and purchased many products at the Ahavah factory outlet store. Mostly Russian Jewish Israelis helping us. The women will be even more beautiful and their skin soft like ancient Israelite women were because of these Dead Sea products. The mud masks alone will make us feel renewed.
We arrived at Masada and entered the visitors center where we too the gigantic tram to the top. You should know that serious historians are really at odds about what Eliezer and the Zealots really did to their own people when the Romans breached theWalls. The telling moment that the story we all grew up with is doubtful is whe the Israel tank core stopped having their induction ceremonies on Masada. (they now do it at Latrun)
Anyway we heard all kinds of theories from the tour guide knowing full well that the debate continues on this subject.
The weather was great and toured Herod's winter palace. We imagined the lifestyle that went on there and then 60 or so years later the zealots taking over the plateau. Herod had everything a monarch could use to survive including a water sisters,plenty of grains and communal building to sustain life for as long as he needed. Aside from the story recorded in the pages of Josephus about Masada, one could not help but respect the building vision of Herod even if by all accounts he was a vicious man and a murderer.
Of course we discussed the importance of the story of Masada in building the self confidence of the burgeoning new state of Israel.
Afterwards we we had lunch at the visitors center and traveled to the Dead Sea. Yes some of our folks had the courage to cover themselves with mud. They looked great. We relaxed and enjoyed the balmy weather. Lots of Russian Jews there basking in the mud.
So we finally returned to Jerusalem. A very nice day.
We left for touring Jerusalem. First we went to Hadassah Hospital at the Ein Kerem campus. Many of the women have been involved in the organization. Proudly Bet Yam members have their names listed on plaques for their tzedakah. We made a visit to the maternity ward.then we entered the synagogue and listened to a cd tour and explanation of the history of the Chagall windows and their Meaning. For a moment we gathered in a circle and recited and then chanted the prayer for healing. Very moving.
Our next stop was Ammunition Hill where learned about the battle to take all of Jerusalem. Many of us were hearing the details of this battle for the first time. The Israelis prevailed but sustained enormous casualties in those six days of June 1967. The courage and bravery of Israeli soldiers became emblazoned upon our hearts and minds.
Now we changed the mood to another miracle of history.we drove to the Israel Museum and had lunch first. fYI the museum underwent a major renovation. From that point we went outside to see the model city of ancient Israel in Temple Days outside. This was fantastic. It is a huge model that is enormous but precise to every detail. Jerusalem must have been such a spectacular city!
We the descended into th Shrine of the Book meaning the scrolls called the Dead Sea Scrolls. People were practically stunned. Just think that these texts,a little over 2000 years old has transformed biblical studies. Our presence and history repeats itself again and again. The texts were amazing not just for the age but for the quality of the message and the scribal art. I cannot say enough here about the excitement of viewing these texts.
The last stop was the Knesset the Israeli parliament. Since it is in session right now we could not enter. But we did visit the famous menorah across the street which is the national emblem of Israel.we took pictures. As we left and headed towards the bus, the school kids who were also there ran over to us. It was fantastic. They surrounded me and a few others throwing questions to about what we thought about Israel. I was speaking Hebrew and English at the same time. Wow! The children and the soldiers who were also there represented the chain of tradition
That must be preserved to protect and defend Israel.
Is that enough?
Off to Tel Aviv in the morning.