General Jewish Spirituality spirituality

First Reflections on Israel Trip

Eva and I arrived home yesterday–or at least our bodies did. I’m hoping our brains catch up sometime in the next day or so. The combination of jetlag, 24 hours of travel from Tel Aviv to Portland and an amped up caffeine addiction from all the great Israeli coffee have left me a bit out of it, but I trust a little more time will restore me to full functionality.

The trip was great. We spent lots of time with family and I got to know some of my younger cousins much better. Touring around Israel was beautiful (and there will be photos coming…I took over 1000, but haven’t done any editing yet). For the first time in 30 years, I was in Israel in a relatively peaceful period, which meant we were able to travel with far less concern for safety, and spent more time in places I haven’t been–like the old city of Jerusalem. All in all, an amazing trip.

A few highlights:

  • My cousin’s bat mitzvah under Robinson’s Arch (a section of the Western Wall of the Second Temple which is set up for men and women to pray together).
  • Many wonderful meals, especially breakfasts of fresh veggies, fruits, cheeses and breads.
  • Touring Beit She’an, an archaeological site excavated to the Roman period which gives an amazing sense of what a Roman city felt like.
  • Beautiful flowering plants everywhere (photos to follow).
  • Spending quality, if not quantity, time with one of my closest friends, and meeting her wife and dog (two separate people, the wife and dog–just to be clear).
  • Discovering that my spoken Hebrew is better than I thought, and that, for the most part, I can communicate in it.

As always, Israel is a complex place. No matter what your political persuasion, there are elements to Israeli society and politics that are challenging. As one tour guide put it, “the problem is that everyone is right.” With many competing ideologies and claims, it is not a restful place to be,  but it is thought-provoking. The situations there confound easy answers, and perhaps that very complexity and challenge is part of the spiritual richness of the land.

More posts and pictures will be forthcoming as my brain and body reunite, but I wanted to provide a first set of general reflections before memory faded any more.

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