Lucky for me I have friends in Jerusalem that welcome Judy and I to stay for (almost) as long as we want! Our family friendship goes back to 1890 or so (no kidding) and is deep and strong. Jerusalem is growing rapidly, very crowded, noisy and bustling…It is also ancient and tranquil and Holy. Like all of Israel she is a mixture of Jews, Muslims and Christians, ultra-modern and pre-historic and everything in between. I wouldn’t want to live here but I sure love visiting.
We spent a wonderful day at the Israel Museum viewing ancient archeological artifacts (there was a special exhibit about Roman Emperor Hadrian (Hadrianus in Hebrew). The destruction wrought by the Romans on the Jews of Judea still hurts after 2,000 years…
Back to the present: Israel in modern times has ingathered Jewish exiles from over 100 countries. Each country created its own customs and style reflecting its relative wealth or poverty as well as the natural resources of the area. For example, Germany was wealthier so ritual objects were predominantly made of silver while Poland was poorer so most ritual objects were made of brass or copper. The Jews of Italy have a long and illustrious history and their ritual objects are ornate and beautiful. Within the Museum are 4 complete synagogues. These synagogues were lovingly deconstructed and re-created within the Museum. There is a wooden synagogue from Germany, a small gem of a synagogue from southern India, a synagogue with white sand floors from Suriname on the coast of South America, and an ornate gilded synagogue from Italy. The synagogues all share certain aspects and yet are wonderfully different. Each synagogue has an ark for the Torah, a raised platform for the Service leader and benches for the men and a section for women on the side or above and they all face Jerusalem. The construction and decorations vary greatly according to the local style and/or the preferences of the families that donated the money. We also viewed exhibits with artifacts dealing with Jewish life from the following countries: Croatia, Cochin India, Afghanistan, France, Kurdistan, Germany, Suriname, Ottoman Empire, Tunisia, Moravia, Buchara, Syria, Algeria, Austria, Poland, Persia, Iraq, Russia, Netherlands, Hungary, France, Italy, Tunisia and Morocco. We saw home and synagogue objects as well as objects dealing with rites of passage; Marriage, Birth, Circumcision, Bar Mitzah, and Death. Such an amazing array of styles infused with Holiness with years (in some cases centuries) of use…. We also visited the Shrine of the Book which contains the Dead Sea Scrolls which are over 2,000 years old and contain text which is virtually identical to what we read today in Services.
Last Week we also had the joy of visiting Sarah Shapiro in Tel Aviv…we even met her boyfriend for a few minutes (seems very nice)…..Sarah is doing well and studying at Tel Aviv University. The weather was splendid and we walked along the harbor and sat in the grass overlooking the ocean (phots #1 and #2). Tel Aviv is a collection of buildings from different eras with many high rises tucked in between them. Lots of noise, traffic and energy.
We also spent some quality time with Miriam Fisher who lives in Jerusalem (photos #3 and #4, the handsome young kibbutznik in the last photo is Miriam’s boyfriend). Such a joy to be able to visit with Frank and Charlotte, Sarah and Miriam. For Sarah and Miriam we got to be their “parents for the day” and bring them hugs from home….
Sent With Blessings,