Sunday, February 17, 2008

So much to report on our journey...Shabbat was lovely - we shared wonderful services on Friday night at kehillat HarEl, Am Shalom's sister synagogue, where the music was fantastic and the sermon highly relevant - it was about clothing, the clothing of the high priest of course...but to our group, most of whom were wearing the same clothes in which we travelled, it was very funny!

It is great to travel to Israel and yet hear many of the same tunes at Shabbat services. Wherever we roam, Jews can feel at home!

The day of Shabbat was mostly spent in the Old City, followed by a study session back at HarEl and a seudah slishit, the 3rd meal of Shabbat before Havdalah. Then we had a night on the town, eating and browsing Ben Yehuda Street's many shops!

Sunday dawned beautifully - bright blue sky and mild temperatures. We began by meeting with Hannah Pick, Anne Frank's closest childhood friend. Our time with this lovely lady was altogether too short - her stories were fascinating. Then we immediately left for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial and Museum.

I had not yet seen the newly redone museum. It was done so well, moving through the years and moments of the atrocities in a moving and beautiful way.

The museum was perhaps even more incredible because of the young soldiers also touring. To see their emotion, most of them tough sabras, was beautiful. Also we shared the tour time with the 8th and 9th grade Chicago teens on the Taam Yisrael program. So good to see these young people gaining this wonderful experience and so moving to see our next generation here in Israel.

The most powerful image to me was the hall of remembrance - a very tall room with shelves stretching above and beyond the floor, lined with books containing the testimony of survivors. Alongside these books were the empty shelves - all the testimony we do not have - all those who did not live to tell their story. The image was a stark reminder of what we've lost.

We came back out into that gorgeous blue sky, and breathed in the air of modern Israel in all her splendor.

We went to Mount Scopus and saw the Chagall Windows at the Hadassah Hospital. They are truly gorgeous.

We returned to our hotel and met briefly with Linda Epstein of the Chicago JUF - she shared he job with us and how she is so instrumental in guiding our money in Israel.

Then we met with Alice Shalvi, founder of the Israel Women's Network and the mother of Israeli feminism. She's quite a sharp and formidable woman and our group enjoyed her talk very much!

Ah....for me a trip to Jerusalem wouldnt be complete without eating at the Village Green, an amazing vegetarian restaurant. (My brother ate across the street at Burgers Bar...go figure) It did not disappoint!!!

Tomorrow we're off to Masada.
Hope for good weather for us - they are predicting snow!:)

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