Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Days 10 & 11 (10/17 and 10/18/15)

 Day 10 -- Saturday, October 17

We were up early to go to services at Morehet Yisrael (the main Conservative synagogue), their services start at 8:30 am. Because we did arrive a few minutes early, we were given the honor of opening the Ark for the Torah service. Eventually other members of our group arrived. It was very crowded as the 37th Zionist Congress was going to be starting and many of the US delegates from the Mercaz party (the Conservative Jewish group) attended the service. The regular Rabbi was not there but his substitute was a very nice Italian Rabbi. After the service was a nice kiddush (cookies and fruit). We then went next door to the Fuchsberg Center for a learning session (we discussed several lines from the Torah portion, Noah). This was followed by lunch in their cafeteria where we were joined by several Lone Soldiers (young men from the US who volunteered to join the Israeli army but had no family in Israel).

We chose to spend a quiet afternoon at the hotel although Mike went for a short walking tour. Eventually we were able to find a taxi and went to the home of friends -- Ittai and Yael Gavrieli -- who live just outside of Jerusalem, about 1/2 hour from the hotel. We were very pleasantly surprised to find that Yael's father, Elad Peled, and his brother and sister-in-law, and their daughter Hila would also be there. Elad Peled is an Israeli hero -- he was a member of the Palmach, a commander during the Six Day War, and involved in the Yom Kippur War. He received his doctorate from Teachers College (as did his wife Zimra) and was a very close friend to Mike's parents. Elad was the director general of Israel’s Ministry of Education and the Assistant Mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek. Here's a link to a lovely article about him. Ittai and Elad drove us back to the hotel.

Day 10 photos

Day 11 -- Sunday, October 18

We had to be at the bus by 7 am but we had late check-out, so we could leave everything in our room. The group had an early appointment for a tour of the Kotel Tunnels where we walked along the Western Wall's massive foundation. This was a different set of tunnels than the ones Kate and I went through in January. We took time to visit the Kotel -- the Western Wall -- and left notes from CBI members as well as tzedakah (charity). We also explored the Southern Wall excavations at the Davidson Center (Kate and I saw this in January, but it was still impressive to see the steps that lead to the Temple).

Lunch was in the Jewish Quarter (we went to the BBQ Grill -- I had shwarma in a pita, Mike had grilled chicken in a pita and an old-fashioned Coke). We also did a little shopping.

Then it was off to the Israel Museum where I finally got to see some of the things I missed in January. We started with a quick look at the model of the Second Temple. This was followed by the Shrine of the Book -- the Dead Sea Scrolls. And then we were on our own. I wandered around the sculpture garden and saw the Ahava (Love) sculpture and others (Henry Moore, Alexander Calder stabile, Picasso sculpture and more). Went into the main museum and saw a few things as well.

And then it was back to the hotel to finish packing and catch our shuttle to the airport. Originally our flight was leaving an hour earlier than the group's, which is why we were heading out early. As it turned out, their flight was delayed by at least five hours (until 5 am on Monday!)

Getting through security and customs was relatively easy. Because Mike has United Club membership, we were able to hang out in the Dan Club. The return flight was much quieter plus I had an eye shade, so I did sleep fairly well. Didn't realize we were getting both dinner and breakfast. We landed early in Newark (about 3:45 am) but Customs doesn't open until 4:15 am, so we had to sit on the plane. Made it through easily and didn't have to wait too long for our luggage. The chilly weather (frost on the car!) was a shock after the hot weather in Israel. We made it home by about 5:30 am.

Day 11 photos

The trip to Israel was really good. Yes, there were some unpleasant incidents going on but we felt safe. As I discovered back in January, Israel is a real place with real people who manage from day to day. It was interesting to see other parts of the country though probably the best was just relaxing in Tel Aviv and spending time with family and friends. Mike and I have a whole list of things we need to do the next time, so we know we're going back. After all, as it says in my last photo "Life is sababa".  (Sababa means cool or copacetic.)

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