Our days are packed, so I am going to post a few brief sketches of our itinerary and activity, and fill out more details when I am able. But I wanted to share what I’ve been up to this week!
Woke up before dawn to get ready and get to Leonardo da Vinici Airport by 8:15, a little more than two hours before our flight is scheduled to leave.
Flying to Israel from Rome took a little over three hours. The Tel Aviv airport is one of the nicest I have seen in the world – the contrast with Fiumicino is on many levels striking. We were met by security officials who streamlined our passport review, and then met our guide, Yitzik, and bus driver, Ezra.
Diving from Tel Aviv on the caost, to Jerusalem in the mountains only takes about 40 minutes, and we get to the hotel a little before sunset. With a little time to check in, unpack and freshen up, we get a brief intro to the Jewish teachings and practices of Sabbath before heading to the home of Rabbi Donniel Hartman for a traditional Shabbat meal.
Oh, The singing! The Shabbat songs are beautiful! It makes me wish I had not basically failed Hebrew!
What does it mean to be a Jew? What is Jewish Identity? Is it family? Is it faith? A people? A nation? These are the questions affecting life in Israel and Jews in general, and the topic of our dinner conversation. There is no consensus. Even when establishing the state of Israel, a definition could not be found, so the one used for the Right of Return is based on the working definition developed by, of all people, Adolf Hitler. If he would have murdered you, you can claim citizenship in Israel and “come home”. Beyond that, it is an open question.
Our first day in Israel was especially blessed. That is to say, it rained. A fine, soft rain like we get in Seattle, but a genuine blessing in a dessert!