Pictures from day 1

Yes, I am finally getting to the pictures! Jet lag was a bug a bear, and then, you know, Thanksgiving. But going through the pictures and sorting them out has been great (still doing it, which is why I’m posting it day by day). It’s tasting the experience just a bit more and remembering the high points, of which there are many!

So, here are the pictures from our day in Judea and Samaria (See post here).

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We were at Ha Yovel, and one of the leaders played for us a song about where we stand – it’s the only song he’s written, and it’s fantastic!


Israel last days

The last of the summaries – further posts will be more in-depth processing. But you should really check out this testimony video; it’s just a few stories of what the Connect to Israel tour meant to us. Totally worth watching the whole thing, but if you want to skip ahead, I’m at 37:30 (ish), and there is a really good analogy used at 41 minutes, there abouts.

So I began the next adventure by taking the light rail (with all my luggage) to the central bus station, to catch the bus to Furadis Junction, near Caesarea on the way to Haifa. I am soooo glad that everyone I met spoke enough English to get me where I needed to be!! My friends Ephraim and Rimona picked me up at the tiny little stop, took me for lunch, and settled me in. Near sunset, Ephraim took me to the next community over, Binyamina,  on a hilltop to watch the supermoon come up. It was quite cloudy, so the sunset was absolutely spectacular, but we only got to see about 5 minutes of the moon before the clouds hid it. It was a bummer that we both forgot our cameras!

The next day was a visit to Zichron Ya’acov to the first Aliyah museum. It was very interesting, tracking a family from Poland, I think, before the war, and their hardships and trials. We took a brief stroll through the town, where the main street was pretty much the way it was then. Walking and touching history is amazing. We made our way to Jerusalem, where I joined my host in several meetings, then returned late and conked out.

We spent a leisurely morning eating breakfast on their back patio. I could easily stay there a long time; there was so much peace, and I felt so restored there, it was absolutely amazing. They then took me to Mt. Carmel, one of my (many) favorite stories – Elijah and the Ba’al prophet showdown. There is a small little church there, and we went up on the roof, and you could see much of the country from there. I have an amazing picture of the Jezreel valley (I’m working on pictures, I should have them up in a couple of days). We worked our way around to Haifa, where we visited with Ephraim and Rimona’s daughter and had lunch. There we saw the Baha’i Gardens. Even though it wasn’t in full bloom, it still was rather breathtaking. Home we came, and then I began my chore of packing up.

As I said, more thoughts will come; right now as I am back in the States and recovering from jet lag, it seems all so surreal. It was a  wonderful time, and awe-inspiring time, and it’s one that I know has affected me deeply, and changed me in ways I can’t begin to catalog, or even recognize at the moment.

And evening came, and then it was morning. And it was all very, very good.

Back to Jersualem

I’m back in the States, trying to catch up, get over jet lag, and process. There will be A LOT of processing, and you get to join me in that journey as well. Lucky you. But in the mean time, I will finish up initial thoughts of the rest of my time in Israel. As always, you can check out pictures and videos at the Joined to HaShem site.

Jerusalem – Last Tour Day

The last day of the tour took us to the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. As our tour guides say, it is not a museum, but a place to remember the atrocities and those who suffered. I sit here, and I have no idea how to put into words the horror and sadness that comes over me. The English term is Holocaust; I prefer the Hebrew term “Shoah”, which means catastrophe, as opposed to a word that means “burnt offering”. After time at the memorial, including a personal teaching at the tree of Corrie Ten Boom just outside the building, we were released once again into the Old City to wander around, make last purchases, and imprint the city in our spirit. After a couple of hours,we gathered together, and those who had a flight to catch went on their way to Tel-Aviv for the airport, and the remaining few of us went our individual ways. And though evening had just peeked through, and morning had not come yet, that was day 10, the last day of the tour. And it was very good. 😉

Jerusalem – My Wanderings

I stayed at a hostel, along with a few other people from the tour who were staying over. After getting settled in, we headed out to Ben Yehuda street to take it in some more and have dinner. It was Thursday night, the night before Shabbat, and it was very active. As one of our tour guides had mentioned, it was kind of like “date night” and hangout time before the weekend, so there was a lot to see. It was rather fun to stroll and people watch. The next day, I walked the streets of the corner of Jerusalem I was in, just watching and observing, taking time not to think, but just be. I picked up a couple of things again at Ben Yehuda street, dashed into a market to buy some lunch before everything closed at 4 or 5 for Shabbat. I loved the custom of shutting everything down for the day of rest. Not everyone does it anymore, even in Jerusalem, but most people and shops do. The hostel had a Erev Shabbat (Shabbat evening) dinner, mostly a cultural experience to teach those staying there. I got picked to read the blessing that traditionally is said by the woman of the house. That was a fun little experience. On Shabbat afternoon, I made my way to the Old City to meet some folk, and we sat and read the Torah portion for the week, and talked about the scripture – a wonderful study of the Bible overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple Mount! What also was fun was that a portion of the study was Genesis 12, the place where we began our tour. Reading it and having been there brought the scripture to life in a very tangible way. Dinner happened at a rooftop restaurant, where we could again watch the sunset over the city. Sunday was visiting day; I spent time chatting with one of the tour guides who was still in the city, and then had tea with a young lady who had just moved to the city from the States via New Zealand. It was great to share our stories and experiences. After that, I had dinner with a couple from the tour who were also seeing Jerusalem at their own pace. It was a precious, precious time. As the day drew to a close, I packed up my bags and got ready to travel northward to stay with some friends in the Carmel region. But that is a story for another blog…

Jordan River, Qumran, Tamar, and Masada

Did I mention drinking from a fire hydrant? Everything has been so amazing, but so much packed in so little time. I’m still here in the land, trying to process and catch up. I will try to summarize the last days of the tour, and will continue to post subsequent thoughts as I process. Continue to check out Joined To Hashem for awesome pictures and videos.

Jordan River, Qumran, and Tamar

We began our day with mikvahs (baptisms) in the Jordan River. It was a special time with some real powerful testimonies. Unfortunately, I was recovering from a bad cold and had to pass. Incentive to return!  We went on to the Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. It was an interesting place, seeing the caves where this sect of Jews maintained the scriptures in simplicity and purity. Touching stones, clay, and dust of times past – pretty surreal. Afterwards, we made our way to Tamar – the biggest spring in the Arava are there. We stayed at Tamar Park, an archaeological biblical park. It is one of the oldest places in Southern Israel, and spans seven time periods in her history: The Abrahamic period, the Mosaic period, the Israelite period, the roman Christian period, the Islamic period, the British period, and the Israeli period. Check out their site here. And then it was evening, and then it was morning, day 8!

Masada, Dead Sea, and Ein Gedi

There are few sites that groups of all faiths come to, and this is one of them – Massada, the Gamla of the south (Post on Gamla). The plateau was built at the time of the Maccabees, and King Herod built a fortress here. There is a fascinating story, and when I return, I will post an audio and video narration of the account that happened here. We went from there to swim (float) in the Dead Sea – or rather, the Salt Sea. Note – do not let that water touch your eyes… but otherwise, much fun. We then hopped on over to the falls of Ein Gedi, and saw the caves in an area where David may have hid from Saul. We climbed around the falls and splashed in the pools, and got up close and personal with the ibexes and irexes. Then back to Tamar to pack up and be on our way back to Jerusalem. And then it was evening, and the it was morning, day 9!