Sunday, July 01, 2007

A sojourn to the Holy Land..


This set of posts is actually going to take a few days. Last month, I mentioned my trip to Israel. In order to make it right, I had to get V. to scan some pictures for me so that it would make it a bit more interesting.

I didn't decide to go to Israel. I was invited there. My boyfriend at that time worked at Rockwell International and had gotten a work assignment in Tel Aviv. It was all hush-hush and classified so I didn't know the nature of the work he would be doing but knew it had some relation to the Israeli military.

He asked if I would like to go.

Oh, like... yeah... I think so!

We would stay for six weeks. I would have to fend for myself while he was working.

I was rather excited about the trip for a couple of reasons. It was my first trip out of the country as an adult and I've also had a lifelong fascination with religion and the history of religion. The idea of walking on the very steps where Jesus had walked excited me. It was going to be an important trip for me. I planned to do a lot of religious exploring.

You know, Israel. That's where it all started.

I'd also had a lifelong affinity for Jewish people and felt very strongly about the Jewish homeland. The idea that they would finally have their own land after the horrible experience of the Holocaust seemed like some kind of divine justice. I'd read "Exodus" a few years before and had a very strong feeling about it.

After an ungodly amount of time in the air and a stopover in Germany, we landed in Tel Aviv on Friday evening. We were able to check into the hotel and were treated to a traditional Shabbat meal. It was only the luck of timing that made that possible.

Since Don didn't have to show up to work until Monday, that left us all weekend to explore. Saturday, of course being the Sabbath day, the Jewish part of the city was as dead as Los Angeles on Sunday morning. We headed off to visit Bethlehem in the West Bank. We found a Christian cab driver who was willing to take us. There were a few scary checkpoints but beyond that, it was quite a stunning sight!

We found ourselves at the Church of the Nativity where it is said Jesus was born. The opening is so small that unless you are a child or very short, you can't help but bend over in respect.

It was probably built that way to keep out invaders but I like the first explanation better.

We filled the remainder of the day looking at other churches in Bethlehem. There were also caves that had been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.

That night, we ate street food at a walking mall and it was quite tasty! Not unlike Thailand, there are all kinds of food available and booths were tended by Christians, Muslims and Jews. So there were all kinds of interesting things to sample.

We went back to the hotel and relaxed with some fuji which is a really tasty fruit. It looks like a tomato and tastes like an apple, a very sweet one. It has a bit of a tough texture but it really is very good. We watched a bit of television. And thus completed our first full day in Israel.

More in the next installment. (These won't be consecutive by the way. I don't want to bore anyone senseless. :)



Peace,


~Chani

19 comments:

jen said...

oooh...I love this. I love hearing about foreign places through the eyes of others. and Isreal..what a place. I would so love to go there one day. i am so glad you are posting about your travels there.

flutter said...

Oh this is fascinating. I have always wanted to go.

Carla said...

No worries about boring us, you are a fascinating read. I would love to see it for myself one day.

Tabba said...

I can't wait to hear about the rest, Chani!

Sober Briquette said...

How thrilling. I'm pretty sure I'll never get there myself - too scary/dangerous - but I enjoy reading about your experiences.

Cecilieaux said...

Touching.

This might be the place to respond to your response, re serenity and doing, the example offered to support the notion of doing.

I'm not really sure how far on a limb I want to go on this. But the way I experience something like the notion of desiring to be serene is twofold:

1. Is this desire worthwhile or is it more mere "lusting" or "coveting" (in Eastern lingo: is it samsara?)?

2. Why do I need to do anything? Why not simply begin to be serene?

I'm intrigued by what you can't abide in Western spirituality. Believe me, I have some complaints myself: I'll show you mine if you show me yours. However, what I like about classic Western spirituality is that it has survived the test of time (I think I'd stop just about at George Fox) and that I understand the context. This is just a marker for future discussion.

Julie Pippert said...

How cool...I've always wanted to go to Israel. Now at least I can, vicariously. :)

Bob said...

just for context, when did this trip occur?

@25 years ago I was warned that if I wanted to travel in the middle east I should save Israel for last, I might be denied entry into some countries if there were an Israeli visa in my passport.

Pam said...

How wonderful, and interesting. I will travel with you here, gladly, to a place that has always intrigued me. Did you feel the echoes of history?

crazymumma said...

I don't think you could bore anyone if you tried.

Keep the travel posts coming....

mitzh said...

I love this one! I love hearing stories about places I have never been to and looking at the pictures.

So wonderful!

I think we have that fruit here in Japan, we called it Kaki.

Christine said...

Hi! I've missed you and your wonderful posts. I'm excited to read all about your travels. I haven't traveled to many places at all, so i try nd get my fill through the eyes of others.

kaliroz said...

Oooh, I can't wait to hear more. I've always wanted to visit Israel.

meno said...

Looking forward to hearing more about this trip. To echo Bob, when did you go?

Mary said...

I love hearing about your trip to Israel. My Mother always wanted to visit there as she was religious and very spiritual.

Could you bore anyone senseless?

NEVER!

Hel said...

I can't wait to hear more. And how sorry I was to miss commenting on the other posts.

You were in my thoughts this weekend.

QT said...

There is no way this could be boring. I would love to go to Israel someday - the history, the religion, all of it. I am looking forward to the rest of these. Spare us no detail!!

thailandchani said...

Jen, I am hoping it will be interesting. :) There's so much that took place on that trip. All I can do is remember each event and try to write it down.

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Flutter, I hope you will be able to go. There's a lot between the lines in that part of the world.

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Carla, thanks. I am enjoying your China posts so much!

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Tabba, thanks. I hope they will be interesting.

Late this afternoon: The Garden of Eden. :) At least I hope that's how it will work out.

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De, you might be surprised. It is dangerous over there.. but no more dangerous than it is here. Perhaps that is why I don't worry too much about terrorist attacks. I was in Israel when one occurred.

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C, I think there are things we have to do to reach these various states of grace. We can't just decide to "be" it.. because we develope habits of thinking, routines and choose lifestyles that prevent us from having it.

That's the whole purpose of these times of seeking ~ whether it is in Israel or the back yard.

As for my problem with western religion, it really boils down to a fairly small, but fundamental, theological differences.

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Julie, you may end up there one day. :)

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Bob, the date is upcoming. I didn't post it intentionally because of one of the events I want to write about.

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Pam, I absolutely did feel the echoes of history. Very much so. There is no way you can walk on the Via Delarosa in Jerusalem and not feel it, regardless of your religion.

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CM, thanks. I'm always concerned.. you know, travelogues... It's like the dreaded family vacation pictures... but this isn't going to be like that anyway.

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Mitzh, yes, I think you do have that fruit but I wasn't aware of the Japanese name. They have it in Thailand also.

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Christine, maybe it will inspire you to go? :)

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Kaliroz, I will try to make them interesting. :)

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Meno, upcoming...

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Mary, thanks. I'm glad I'm not being boring. Your mother never went? That's really too bad. I wish she'd been able to go.

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Hel, thanks. It was a rough one.. but, you know, we get through. :)

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QT, I'll do my best. :) Just keep in mind how tangential I am. LOL

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Peace,

~Chani

Laurie said...

I actually find this quite fascinating, Chani. I can hardly wait for the next installment.