Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Israel with Temple Beth Zion and Westminster Presbyterian Church Part 6

January 22, 2010

We left Jerusalem very early this morning for our day trip to the Dead Sea. Upon reaching the Dead Sea, we could see evidence of flash floods that had crossed the road days before. This is normal for winter in Israel. When the rains come the ground is often hard and dry and cannot absorb much water so it gathers in the normally dry river beds and heads to the Sea of Galilee and Jordan River, the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea.

Masada has changed for me over the years as it has for many Israelis. The message of the brave soldiers choosing death and suicide for themselves and their wives and children rather than slavery as the ultimate courage has been replaced by a more reflective understanding of "Never Again Will Masada Fall".  The goal no longer is a choice between death or freedom, rather it is ensuring life and freedom and that is a powerful message.

Nonetheless, it is always a thrill to be on Masada, especially with those who have not been there before. The granaries, the cisterns, the breach in the wall, the discussion about Josephus and his agenda, never lose their power for me.

The rest of Friday was spent in "preparation for Shabbat" and welcoming Shabbat. Our guide Julie and I have been harsh taskmasters giving little time for shopping and hurrying people out of stores to keep us running on time. Our schedule has been full and timing has been important. So by the time we reached the Ahava Factory Outlet store and gift shop at Qumran, and we gave them a whole hour for eating and shopping, need I say more?

Then it was down the road to the Dead Sea beach at Qumran. Below are several photos of people covered in mud and floating in the sea. I am under threat of death to post certain shots here but perhaps they can be a fundraiser for Westminster and TBZ. Of course all the money would go to support Mitzvah Day and other similar projects....

Arriving back in Jerusalem we changed and dressed for Shabbat, boarded the bus and drove to Kol Haneshama for Shabbat evening services. Every Jewish worship service in every congregation is unique unto itself. After a brief introduction to the service and Reform Judaism in Israel the singing began and our souls were lifted. Shabbat should be about peace and joy. The service was that and more. At the service were two of our former Institute of Liberal Jewish Studies teachers, Rabbis Elyse Goldstein and Michael Klein-Katz and of course the rabbi of Kol Haneshama, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman was our Halpern Speaker several years ago. It was a blessing to see them, hug them and wish them Shabbat Shalom.

Our Shabbat dinner at the hotel overwhelmed us with food and new, deep friendships. May the extra soul we gained this Shabbat carry us through to next Shabbat and beyond.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem,

Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld

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