I paid tribute to my husband’s trip a few weeks ago through Johnny Cash, but now I’ll let him give you the deets in his own words. Timeliness is not my greatest strength as a blogger. Forgive me, and enjoy:
Considering my name, I guess it was only a matter of time before I paid a visit to Israel – The Holy Land! Of course my name did cause some confusion for a number of Israelis, including the immigration officer in Tel-Aviv airport who couldn’t understand why a Mexican was named Israel and why it had taken me so long to visit the country.
Good question. And after leaving Israel, I too asked myself why it had taken me so long to go…
Where to start and how to describe a visit that included stops in Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes? In a few words, it was absolutely humbling.
Humility is the only way to describe the introspective feeling one has when standing on the same Roman road where Jesus walked, passing the place where David fought Goliath, or standing on the same mountain where Jesus gave his famous sermon declaring that “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
And even if you’re not a believer, it’s hard not to feel small when surrounded by a beautiful lush landscape that has been home to a thriving civilization for well over 4,000 years.
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to travel to Israel as part of an educational trip to better understand the unique and important Israeli-United States relationship. The week long excursion included meeting with a number of public elected officials, government representatives, journalists and scholars, but the memories that I will most cherish are being in the places that had only appeared in my imagination when reading the Old and New Testaments.
Among my highlights:
Site of the Jewish Temple in Old Jerusalem. This is the place where you can still see the remnants of the old Roman road where Jesus walked.
Seeing Bethlehem from Israel: Bethlehem is in Palestine of course, but still being able to see it from a distance was pretty cool. To think that is the place where Jesus was born was surreal.
Yad Vashem: Holocaust museum. It was hard to keep it together touring this museum that shows the horror that was the Holocaust. Built in a cold and windowless underground setting to convey the inhumanity of this dark period, the museum renders a proper tribute to everyone who perished.
Yemin Orde: Boarding school for Israeli orphans and refugee children from all around the world. They are doing amazing work. Check them out! Highlights included a personal tour by a friendly Ethiopian who made us laugh when she said that when traveling to Israel for the first time from Ethiopia, she was amazed to discover that there were white Jews! Side note: the story of Ethiopian Jews is quite fascinating. More here.
Shabbat Dinner: Rich in tradition and such a great reminder to give thanks for what you have instead of what you want. It’s also a great way of (literally) unplugging yourself from the world – including work!
And speaking of food, Israeli cuisine is simply delightful. Fresh, tasty and varied; it’s hard to pick just one dish that I most enjoyed, but it may have been home made hummus we had a friend’s house that was like nothing I had ever had back home. Check out this spread.
It’s only been a few weeks since I returned from Israel, but I can tell you that I’m already scheming for a way to return. The trip was perfect, with one exception: my girls were not with me!