Only in Israel


Shabbat will begin in Jerusalem in just a couple of hours and I wanted to share just two of the amazing experiences the Shaare Tefila group and I have had in Israel so far.

Yesterday we participated in an ongoing archaeological dig sponsored by a group known as Archaeological Seminars in the town of Beit Guvrin south of Jerusalem. The town that thrived during the time of Hanukah - 2200 years ago - was known as Maresha. Upon arrival at the site a guide from the Seminar boarded our bus to show us where we'll be and provide the intro. I introduced myself to her and she said, "Jonah Layman! I remember you from camp!" I asked her, embarrassed because I didn't recognize her, "who are you?" Turns out that she is a couple of years younger than me, her older twin sisters are my age, and I haven't seen her in 25 years! She grew up at Olam Tikvah in Fairfax, VA and moved to Israel 20 years ago. Now she is a tour guide and works at Beit Guvrin! Of all the guides who could have been assigned to us, she shows up! Only in Israel!

In the evening yesterday, after a full day, we stopped by the side of the road outside of the town of Arad in the Judean Desert. It is desolate and we wanted to experience sunset. Our guide suggested that we walk along a path for a little while and try to experience some solitude - listen to wind, look at the changing colors in the sky as darkness falls, and connect to inner thoughts. Granted this isn't something I would normally do but I found it very moving. I was on ground that our ancestors walked - perhaps even Abraham and Isaac on their way from Beer Sheba to Jerusalem 3500 years ago. That made the solitude more special. It was very moving. I felt, listening to the wind, and feeling the cooler air, that I wasn't alone. Only in Israel.

Meeting an old friend or connecting to an inner spirituality - only in Israel!

Shabbat Shalom!