Shalom from Israel!
I departed from JFK Airport on Saturday night, flew for 10 hours and landed safely at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv last night. It was an emotional journey during which I reflected on my two past trips to Israel (I lived here for a year in 1999-2000, then visited again in 2005).
During the first trip, I learned so much - it was the first year of my rabbinical school training (which was five years total). I was engaged at the time, so much of the year was spent pining for my fiance at home (we split up soon after I returned to the States).
Last time I was here, it was very soon after my car accident. I was in so much pain the entire time, and there was so much I couldn't do. I spent much of the trip on the bus, waiting for the group to return.
I am going to post pics soon (it's not working right now, for some reason). Will update more tomorrow!!
This time - I'm healthy!!
When I arrived last night, I said a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude. It felt like a homecoming. I was surrounded by people speaking Hebrew, I rented a "pelaphone" (Hebrew for cellphone), and I was on my way to Jerusalem. It was dark and rainy out, so I really didn't get to see much of the landscape.
I am here for our annual Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention (the main Reform rabbi professional organization). Last year was in Cincinnati, and this year is in Jerusalem. BIG DIFFERENCE!!! :)
Today, however, I took a day trip with some of my colleagues to the Galilee. Specifically, we visited a site called Beit Shearim, a very famous burial site in Jewish tradition (one of our Talmudic sages of the 2nd century, Judah HaNasi, is buried there). We then traveled to Tzippori, another famous town very close to Nazareth and Megiddo, where the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court during the first two centuries CE) once sat before moving to Tiberias.
In Tzippori, we saw the most incredible mosaics - they were found on the floors of excavated 6th century synagogues. They depict images of the Bible, such as Abraham's binding of Isaac, images of Aaron becoming the High Priest, as well as big ole Zodiac. I am fascinated by the Zodiac, because it shows that the Jews were quite influenced by the outside Hellenistic culture and that they adopted some its beliefs/art.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Shalom from Israel!