Thursday, August 17, 2017

Setting the Record Straight on General Pershing and the "50 bullets" myth

Surprisingly, President Trump revisited a myth regarding General Pershing's behavior during his tour as U.S. Governor of the Phillipines' Moro Province from 1909-1913 (following the Spanish American War).  President Trump actually used this same story in March of 2016 when running for president.  At the time, the myth was fully fact checked and debunked.

... yet if it were true, it would be even more disturbing, as it involves a mythic use of "pigs blood" as a weapon against muslims.  The kind of anti-muslim stereotype and bias involved in that story, is much like the "blood libel" in that it uses a religious symbol or taboo as the mechanism of attack.  It is a medieval bias in imagery which should never be permitted.

For those who missed it, here is the debunking.

 I post this in the wake of today's horrible attack in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, with the hope that - tweets notwithstanding - facts and analysis can rule the day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In the Wake of White Supremacist Violence in Virginia

In the Wake of White Supremacist Violence in Virginia 

Dear Friends,

The events of this week have taught us once again that the strength of our democracy lies in the freedom of speech accorded to every person of conscience, and that the greatest threat to our democracy comes when those words are used for hatred and violence.

What happened this week in Charlottesville, VA, was a cause for real concern, as neo-nazi groups united with other racists and "far right" fringe groups to join together and declare their hatred of all minorities ("non-whites"), and especially of Jews and African Americans.  The banding together is a troubling development, as such groups have acted in a much less cohesive fashion in the past.  The fruit of their labors was mayhem and murder, as dozens were hurt and one woman killed in riots and a terrorist attack on an intersection with an automobile.

Make no mistake:  the press only barely reported the Jew-hatred in the crowd.  Signs, shirts, slogans followed the rhetoric of the third reicht and Hitler.  Jews were blamed for all the stereotypes and conspiracies you can imagine, and more.  We were attacked.  You were attacked.

At this time, vigilance and education is the answer.  DEMAND that your elected leaders speak unequivocally and immediately in the face of white extremism, condemning it specifically and repeatedly.  LEARN about the groups involved.  And RESPOND to the threat in concrete ways.

Here are a few links that you should find helpful in learning and responding to this monstrosity.

The Conservative Movement’s Statement: 

The Southern Poverty Law Center:   tracks hate groups, has an excellent “hate map” to view this kind of activity nationwide, and a link to “ten things you can do to fight hate.”  

The National Council for Jewish Women:  Ways to ACT.

The JTA’s “A Guide to Far Right Groups” is a helpful learning link:

At this time, we know that the reasonable world in America still has the upper hand.  Make your voice heard and be certain to hold all elected officials accountable for their leadership at this critical time in our nation's history.


Rabbi Robert Tobin

Friday, July 7, 2017

Our Hall of Memories - Israel 2017

In no apparent order, here are our the first 13 of our 29 participants' favorite pictures... more to come as I receive them!

Carol Golub:

Jerry Golub:

Geri Weinberg:

Abby Ruder:

Howard Kastner:

Ron Goldberg:
Deb Schuback:

Terry Schwarz:

Amy Schwarz:

Jerry Buchoff:

Orit Kastner:

Marlene Lynn:

Amy Schwarz:

Ken Friedland:

Amy Friedland:

Steve Isaacson:

Bonnie Isaacson:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

We returned to you, O Jerusalem

Thursday, July 6:  OUR LAST DAY!  (sadly so)

Today we woke up, packed and sent our luggage out to the bus for the last time.  It is stunningly hard to believe that we are leaving Israel tonight.  The trip has been a time of bonding and surprises, learning and listening, as we travelled from South to North across the length of this precious country.

First on our agenda?  The goal of the entire trip:  Tzippori (Sephoris).  Here, all the pieces of the puzzles came together.  The contemporary Beit She'an is echoed in the massive Roman city, a cardo, an amphitheater and more.  The classic "ten man wide" roman street, paved at angles to ease the passage of iron wheels, leads across an archaeological site that is barely uncovered.

The quality of mosaics in the mansion and public buildings are unparalleled in this region.  The artistry, mythology, and the pure skill and variety of mosaic tile shapes and colors are breathtaking.

The pride of Jewish identity is found in carvings on the rocks in the city, alongside Roman street games, but also in the spectacular synagogue.  I had to use "panorama" on my I-phone and walk from one end to the other to get it all in one picture:

All of the elements of the synagogues we have viewed are here, and more.  From the call to Avram and the binding of Isaac on the right, to the great zodiac wheel of time under the power of the one God.  Temple showbread, sacrifices and holidays adorn the left, building up the an image of the Temple itself in  a time when the Temple was a distant memory and a future hope.  Here in this very city, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and his colleagues wrote the Mishnah.  Here the physical destruction of Jerusalem was redeemed in the literary creation of our core values and halakhah (Jewish Law).  Here the common language of Judaism was forever preserved, but in a form that would inspire dedicated study and yearning in every page of the Talmud and down to our own day.  Here, destruction is overcome by a community that can live in peace with the non-Jewish world and its values and images while preserving our faithful and devoted identity as Jews - unique and true in a world of peoples and ideas.

The unparalleled contribution of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is impossible to exaggerate, and to walk in the place of his work and life has come to be profoundly meaningful to this group of travelers in his footsteps.

So, in memory and respect, we travelled to Beit She'arim, the largest and most prestigious Jewish necropolis (burial site) in the region. Here, amidst graves of later Christians, greek inscriptions, and Hebrew inscriptions, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was buried.

And so, our journey coming to a close, we headed out from the North on the long ride back to Ben Gurion Airport, east of Tel Aviv.  First we went west, in the direction of Mt. Carmel, where Elijah the prophet rebuked the pagan prophets of Ba'al.  On the southern slopes of the Carmel lies the artists' village of Ein Hod.  This town was one of those damaged by the arson terrorist attacks in the forests of the area in 2016.  We came here deliberately to support them and to admire their work.

And from here... the bus ride along the coast to Hertziliyah, and our final dinner.  We arrived in Hertziliyah an hour before our reservation, and many of us took a final opportunity to shop or buy presents for loved ones back home.  A few of us looked at the marina, and looked at eachother, and said... "a free hour?  hmmm....."

.... and joined a rental of speed boat to hit the Mediterranean for a half an hour!  Not part of the formal tour, it was quite a ride nonetheless!

We closed our trip with a final dinner, of grilled meats, breads and Israeli salads and dips.  We said goodbye to Coral Tours, Avi Regev, and our Driver, Roni.  Lois Schubak was given the "Greatest Trooper" award by Rabbi Tobin, and we laughed and cried a little over our most meaningful moments.

And from there... goodbye to the Mediterranean, and to Israel... until next time!  What a day, and what a tour!

...on the bus...

... At the airport...

...on the plane...

Hashanah haba'ah, birushalayim!  Next year in Jerusalem!!

Stay Tuned for a Separate final post.... one picture each, submitted from the trip's participants, for a final hall of meaning.

Wednesday, July 5,

This morning we woke up in the beautiful Galil region of Israel.  The rolling hills between Haifa and the Kinneret are some of the most lovely in the world.  In the spring, they are green like Ireland, but by this time of year they have turned to green trees and brown grasses. Ripening pomegranates joined crops and orchards as far as the eye can see.  Israel has become not only an agricultural miracle, providing for its population's complete needs, but also an environmental miracle - now sustaining ample irrigation and drinking water for the country from a network of resevoirs, recycling plants, aquifers and 4 desalination plants turning sea water into fresh water.  85% of agricultural water is recycled "grey" water turned to productive use.  

Our first stop was the ancient synagogue at Hamat, Tiverius.  

Again we see the typical Zodiac of the 4th and 5th centuries.  We are reminded of the deep presence of the Rabbis of the Mishnah (2nd century) in this area. Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Meir's burial places are on the hill behind the synagogue, and we recall the debates about cooking "in the hot springs of Tiverius" on Shabbat.  This world of mosaics and syncretism with the non-Jewish world was the direct product of the Rabbis of the Mishnah.  We realized that this is our Judaism, Conservative Judaism, living at peace and drawing from the outside world, while faithfully committed to our tradition and identity.

We move to the northern side of the Kinneret, and there we find the remains of the synagogue in Capernaum.  This 4th century synagogue has carvings and remains of the Temple or the Ark of the covenant, and elegant white limestone in a region of black basalt rock.  

We studied pieces of the Christian bible, which testify to the existence of a known synagogue where the Torah was read.  This backdrop for the Christian narrative sheds light on the region's vibrancy.

From Capernaum we crossed into the Golan Heights, travelling up into a region with little or no literary memory, but lots of archaelogical discoveries since Israel arrived in 1967.  We reflected on the strategic importance of the area, and our guide, Avi Regev, was a 25 year army veteran stationed on the Golan for over 7 years.  His insights and clarity were profoundly helpful for all of us.

Our last scheduled stop (stay tuned) was the "Talmudic Village of Qatzrin."  This site is based on an actual town and synagogue in the area that we would expect to find the ancient site of Qatzrin.  While no direct evidence defines this as the place, the modern Israeli capital of the Golan region is named for it right nearby.  Here we ate a picnic lunch, and learned how people in the early Talmudic Period (200-479 CE) would have lived here.

And then, the big surprise of the day:  That's Syria, folks.  

We drove up, and over the Golan heights to the very edge of the Syrian border.  Yes, it was something done carefully and knowingly between Rabbi Tobin and Avi Regev.  The truth is that with the Syrian civil war in full bloom, the safest place in Syria right now is the Israel border.  The green field below is a cleared mine field, now farmed by an Israeli kibbutz.  The white buildings are the U.N. observation headquarters. The row of trees marking the horizon on the left side of the picture are about 1/2 mile from our vantage point, and are IN SYRIA. Here we are.  In the distance, inside Syria, we heard some explosions or artillery, but here all was quiet.

It was a wonerful day, or remarkable experiences.  We returned to kibbutz Lavi for the night, enjoyed a huge buffet, and went off to sleep.... our last night in Israel.

Tuesday, July 4

Everyone got an American Flag pinwheel from the rabbi for the 4th of July!  As we celebrate the American Independence day, we reflect on the common values of democracy, religious freedom and national independence as shared values between Israel and the USA.

We went north, leaving Jerusalem for the final time... THIS trip.  "Im eshkakheikh yerushalayim, tishkach yemini... If I forget thee o' Jerusalem, may my right hand (strength) be forgotten as well..."

Heading back to the Dead sea, we turned north instead of south, heading towards the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).  We passed many kibbutzim, and marvelled at the construction and agriculture that Israel has brought to the narrow strip of valley along the Jordan River.   We saw mango groves, date palm plantations, sunflower fields and cotton fields ripe for harvest as we went  We also admired the towns and farms on the Jordanian side of the river... just a few hundred yards away from our bus at times, and were grateful to see what comes to those who make peace.  If only all the inhabitants under Israeli sovereignty could come to a place of peace and prosperity.  

Eventually we reached our main goal of the day:  The great biblical, Jewish and Roman city of Beit She'an.  The town has been settled since Egypt ruled the region over 3,000 years ago.  Beit She'an sits just by the opening of the Jezreel Valley from Haifa to the Jordan, as those trade routes cross the north south highways from Syria and Babylonia down to Egypt and the western Arabian peninsula.  At the crossroads of the ancient world, Israel was so often attacked and over-run by the empires that came and went.

The site we see today is from the 3rd and 4th centuries, marking a heyday in history, and a time when Jews in the regioin lived in peace and prosperity under both pagan, and then Christian Rome.

At the welcome center, we found shade.

The great theater, with our group halfway up the original height of the seating area.

Overlooking the hot pipe system for the enormous communal bath house, next to the temple of Dionysus.

The view down the Cardo of Beit She'an.  This is less than a quarter of the original structure - a pearl of the time.

Leaving the theater, exit stage right.

The heat wave hit its peak today, with temperatures over 100 degrees.  Unlike Arad, however, the humidity up here was also over 85%, making the day a bit brutal.  LOTS of water, everyone!

Next we went to the synagogue at Beit Alpha, again from the 3rd and 4th century.  Here we see the more elaborate forms of mosaics so typical of the time and place.  Zodiacs, Animal images, female nature images, and the grand central figure of Helios the sun god on a synagogue floor!  This calendar was their calendar as well as the Hebrew sacred calendar.  And just like many American Jews might think "God" is a word that needs to be written "G-d", the Helios image was just another non-Jewish word or image for the one true God, ruler of all time and life.

The proliferation of synagogues in the North is the background for, and result of the work of the Rabbis of the Mishnah in Tzippori.  The traditions of Hillel and Shammai, the traditions of Rabbi Akiva, and the same source material as the Tosefta and more were alive in these communities.  They generated the Aleppo Codex, the Talmud Yerushalmi, and - of course - the Mishnah itself.  The Golden age of Rabbinic Judaism in the Land of Israel was in the cosmopolitan climate of the Galilee.

We also appreciated the fact that every gas station has kosher doritos of every imaginable flavor...

Finally we reached our last hotel of the trip... Kibbutz Lavi.  This is the view from our balcony.

The kibbutz has a full communal dining hall, with 5 buffets...  

And everyone was very happy!

After dinner, we heard an interesting talk about the history of Kibbutzim in general, and Kibbutz Lavi specifically.  This kibbutz has about 700 families, and still holds to the ideals of communal property and equal salaries for all jobs on the kibbutz.

Tomorrow we go to the Golan, to visit the Talmudic village of Katzrin.  

... more to follow then!

Monday, July 3, 2017

We woke up at a lazy 8:00 this morning, enjoying a full scale top-fo-the-line buffet breakfast at the Leonardo.  My goodness... what there was to choose from.  Eggs, salads, breads, fruits, pizza, a variety of hot meals... too many to name.  Our first stop was the "4-D" films "Jerusalem Time Capsule & I am Jerusalem."  While those who have been to Disney and Universal studios have experience flashier use of the 4-D technology, it was an enjoyable "ride" nonetheless.  The history of Jerusalem was once again laid out in front of us, with a nice extended presentation of the neighborhoods and life of the modern city.  

We then travelled to Yad VeShem, the Israeli National Museum of the Shoah (Holocaust).  A somber visit to the children's memorial preceded our walk through the main gallery.  The horror and deliberate system of murder was experienced by all. Rather than present images of our members in that exhibit, I choose instead to show three images from the site:

A plaque in memory of all forms of resistance:

 A Memorial for Soldiers:

A memorial menorah.

And the flag of the state that will ensure that this must not, and will not ever happen again:

From Yad VeShem we went to the Israel Museum and the Shrine of the Book.  First, we saw a very large scale model of the city in late second temple times.  The city we have walked through makes more sense from a bird's eye view.

We also spent time understanding the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a depository of all kinds of Jewish and non-Jewish writings from the time of the second temple.  Nearly our entire Tanakah is represented in its fragments, and the Isaiah scroll display in the shrine itself captivated our attention. We also spent a bit of time focused together on the Aleppo Codex, the oldest example of Torah vowels and cantillations that we have - the oldest text of the Masoretic tradition which we follow today in chanting Torah and Haftarah in synagogue.


 Our regularly scheduled day at the Kenesset had a special twist, when I managed to get a hold of MK Michael Oren of the Kulanu party.  Michael is, of course, our own member from B'nai Shalom, and has come home to visit with us often.

Our tour started normally enough, visiting the Chagall ceremonial hall, and learning the history of the only genuine democracy in the Middle East.

We saw a committee room and sat in the chairs that members of Kenesset normally use.

And then Rabbi Tobin sprang the surprise:  Michael could see us, and he invited us to his offices.

He spoke passionately about his past work on the Western Wall Plaza at Robinson's arch, and his work as Ambassador of Israel to the U.S. to create those compromises.  He spoke of his being the only MK "in the government" to speak against the decisions - noting that his position as head of Diplomacy in the Netanyahu government could very well be at risk. But it is about Zionism, not politics, if we are talking about allowing Jews to express themselves as Jews.  The variety of Judaism needs to be embraced and welcomed if we are to be true to the founding ethos and the real purpose of the state.

He was called out for several versions of a vote against the government on the very topic.  We went into the gallery and watched this parliamentary democracy in action.

Michael voted... to .... ??

Our Friend in Jerusalem:

The surprise visit added an hour and a half to a long day, but the consensus was that it was a wonderful surprise and well worth the time spent.  This is truly a democracy, even when the government betrays core values.  The supreme court will now handle what the prime minister and the Kensset can not take care of.... stay tuned as the case is heard on July 30.

Tomorrow we say good-bye to Jerusalem, and head NORTH .... as a heat wave cracks down on us at 110-115 degrees... oy!  Bring your swimsuits!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

This morning we awoke to a full breakfast in the Inbar Hotel in Arad, packed our bags and loaded the bus.  


This morning, Rabbi Tobin led us in study and led us to a short awareness excercise in the desert at Z'man Midbar -Desert Time - a spiritual eco-center outside of Arad in the desert.  We learned about the founders' work in peace relations with the Bedouin in the area, their ecological commitments to sustainable and energy independent living, and their hopes for ecological minded living as the key to peace.

Z'man Midbar

Goodbye to Arad in the desert.... until next time!!

Next we went to "Eretz Bereishit" for a bibliodrama and lunch, with "Avraham Avinu," and learned about the mitzvah of hakhnasat orchim - Welcoming guests.  The food was excellent, and the camels were an adventure for many!

 Finally, after leaving the camels and our new found cramps, we returned to Jerusalem.  We stopped by a little known site from before the 1967 war, when Jews in the Jewish quarter were supplied by secret "cable car" from the hospital that is now the Mt. Zion hotel.

 And then, much to EVERYONE's delight, we checked into the Leonardo Hotel in the center city of Jerusalem.  Orit managed to convince the hotel to keep the pool open for us, and after 105 degree camel rides in the desert we definitely appreciated it!  Dinners were out on our own, with walks in the city.  Tomorrow we are off to the Kenesset, the Israel Museum, and Yad V'shem.  Stay tuned!!

SHABBAT, & Saturday, July 1.

We had a WONDERFUL Shabbat evening service, and dinner back at the Hotel Inbar - the finest hotel in the city ;) !

Saturday morning was a at synagogue, with ruach and wonder, as members of our shul received aliyot and warm welcome from our shul in Arad. The surprise miracle of the day you might learn from a friend, but I am saving for Yom Kippur... but it was the hand of God at work in our lives, and will be remembered by all of us forever.

A free afternoon was met with Minchah and a shared discussion of our meaningful moments.  Tears and laughter showed how much this trip has already meant to us.  At night, we were honored by the Mayor of Arad, Nissan Ben Hamou, and the leaders of Shira Hadasha as we danced and sang traditional Israeli melodies into the night.  The Mayor specifically applauded Shira Hadasha as "the kind of synagogue that Israel needs more of," and promised that he would be writing a statement this evening for publication against the horrid decision of the government to break the egalitarian prayer agreement and to advance the Orthodox monopoly on conversion.

Many went off to pubs or ice cream to finish the long day together.

Once again, Chocolate Wraps up our Day!

Shavua Tov!!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday was our long journey south to Arad.  We woke up early, and left Jerusalem for a brief while. After descending through the Judaen Desert, well below sea level, we arrived at the northern shore of the dead sea.  Can you find Rabbi Tobin in the picture?

From there we head south along the Dead Sea to the ancient site of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  Who were the inhabitants of this ancient site?  Who hid the eclectic mix of apocalyptic and standard Hebrew texts in clay pots in the hillsides here?  Why and when did they leave?  These questions have many theories, but no certain proof. On Monday, we will be back in Jerusalem to see the scrolls themselves.

Further down the Dead Sea, we visited the site of an 4th-5th century synagogue, at Kibbutz Ein Gedi.  The remarkable mosaic floor includes months, years, images of nature, images of the 7 branched menora from the temple, a donor dedication and a startling warning against revealing the "secret of the community."  What was the secret?  The community was destroyed in fire, leaving behind a cache of coins and other valuables which were never reclaimed.  Perhaps the secret died with them.  The synagogue, however, is a proof of the affluence of the community, and its dedication to the kind of Torah Judaism that the Mishnah comes to save. More on that in the days ahead.

The "apple" of Ein Gedi

From here we continued south, as the day grew hotter.  7 brave souls chose to head up to the top of Masada, while the rest of the trip went to a 5 star hotel spa on the Dead Sea for lunch, rest and relaxation.

By the end of the afternoon it was off to ARAD and our sister congregation, Shira Hadasha.

Welcome to Arad!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Today we explored the City of David.  New archaeology on the southern side of the old city has found evidence of ancient Jewish settlement in the original area of the city.  According to Tanakh, King David conquered the city from the Jebusites nearly 3,000 years ago.  The ancient water tunnels constructed to preserve and defend the city are still there, and we explored them and the surrounding walls.  As we desceded from the Temple Mount to the City of David, we see the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley.  Richard and Kit Greenberg stopped to enjoy the view!

Inside the visitor center, we saw a film telling the history of Jerusalem.  
You can view our site at

At the highest point, King David built his palace, and here we find the foundation, storage rooms and water cistern of a large and wealthy building - right where you would expect it.

Most startling was the discovery of a number of clay seals, used in official and royal correspondence for centuries.  This seal, in particular, is interesting as it contains a name associated with King Hezekiah in the Tanakh.

Ancient pottery oil lamps were also unearthed, as were garbage pits containing fish bones and wooden fragments from furniture made from trees that grow in far away Syria and Lebanon. Royal, indeed!

The British Archaeologist, Warren, first explored the underwater caves designed to bring water into the fortified city on the peninsula.  One, older tunnel was constructed by the Jebusites.  The later, longer tunnel was built by King Hezekiah, as testified both by the archaeology and the tanakh.

In the next picture you see "Biblical" City of david above, and the "current" city of david, below.  The first Picture is drawn for the east looking west.  The lower picture is taken from the south, looking north.

DOWN we go!!!  Looking down the spiral stair.

A diagram of the water tunnels.

The deepest cistern would have held thousands of gallons of potable water for the city above.

On the eastern side of the city of David, enormous boulder walls were built 6,000 years ago, and still stand today.  Their purpose was to allow the citizens in the city above to come down the side of the hill to retrieve water, without hostile forces attacking from the outside.  Eventually, Hezekiah enclosed the entire area is defensive walls, but the "Water Gate" was an important defensive structure for thousands of years.

At the bottom of the Water Gate.

For those who wish to walk through the 1,000 + feet of the water tunnel, here is the entrance.

This group chose to go up the "dry tunnel," which follows the ancient Jebusite tunnel.

A beautiful park has been built above the Shiloh pool  That is actually clover grass growing there with irrigation.

We traveled next to the Jaffa Gate, where we saw the Medieval defensive gate on the Western Side of the Old City.  Some went back to the Hotel, and others travelled to Ben Yehuda for shopping and lunch.  
At six PM we had dinner on our own in the city... here are some of the dining experiences:

At night, Jerusalem is celebrating a festival of light shows at night.  We went to the Tower of David Museum and saw a spectacular sound and light show of the history of the city, ending with "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem."  

And what would a day be that doesn't end with a little chocolate from Ben & Jerry's?

On Friday we will head south to the Dead Sea and get ready for Shabbat in Arad!!!

Laila Tov!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

29 travelers joined together on Mt. Scopus, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, known in the Tanakh as Zion.  Looking out in the morning sunshine, the gleaming Dome of the Rock marked the place where our ancient Temple stood. Panning our eyes, we saw taller hills surrounding the one most holy hill - nestled among them in both humility and beauty as the permanent abode of hope and meaning for our people.

Welcome to Ben Gurion Airport!

Orit Kastner hands out the welcome Shechiyanu "l'chayim"

Rabbi Tobin reads the Psalm of Jerusalem's Ramparts, and wishes blessings for our journey!

We are all here now!  Golden Dome in the Background.

Beginning to explore outside Zion Gate

Lunch in the Old City

The Herodian Mansions in the Wohl Museum are a highlight of the day.  See how people really lived before the Roman Destruction in 70 CE.

At the Wall.  Today is a horrible week for the Wall, as Prime Minister Netanyahu betrays years of hard work and comprimise - revoking the government's commitment to create an egalitarian space for all Jews to pray according to our customs and conscience.

I am home... but the government doesn't care.

Anat Hoffman, head of "Women of the Wall," speaks with us in the evening.  A remarkable woman, pursuing the rights of all Jews to be treated equally and fairly in the observance of our religion.

Up for Thursday:  The City of David, a hidden cable car, Ben Yehuda street and the Light Show on the old walls in the evening!

Laila Tov from Israel!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

29 travelers joined together on Mt. Scopus, overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, known in the Tanakh as Zion.  Looking out in the morning sunshine, the gleaming Dome of the Rock marked the place where our ancient Temple stood. Panning our eyes, we saw taller hills surrounding the one most holy hill - nestled among them in both humility and beauty as the permanent abode of hope and meaning for our people.

Welcome to Ben Gurion Airport!

Orit Kastner hands out the welcome Shechiyanu "l'chayim"

Rabbi Tobin reads the Psalm of Jerusalem's Ramparts, and wishes blessings for our journey!

We are all here now!  Golden Dome in the Background.

Beginning to explore outside Zion Gate

Lunch in the Old City

The Herodian Mansions in the Wohl Museum are a highlight of the day.  See how people really lived before the Roman Destruction in 70 CE.

At the Wall.  Today is a horrible week for the Wall, as Prime Minister Netanyahu betrays years of hard work and comprimise - revoking the government's commitment to create an egalitarian space for all Jews to pray according to our customs and conscience.

I am home... but the government doesn't care.

Anat Hoffman, head of "Women of the Wall," speaks with us in the evening.  A remarkable woman, pursuing the rights of all Jews to be treated equally and fairly in the observance of our religion.

Up for Thursday:  The City of David, a hidden cable car, Ben Yehuda street and the Light Show on the old walls in the evening!

Laila Tov from Israel!!