So,with all this time on my hands, I will take a look back at prior Israel experiences.
Summer of 1968 was my virgin voyage. In 1964 I had my Bat Mitzvah (not a common occurrence for girls at that time) and rather than give me a big party, as they had done for my sister four years prior and would do for my brother four years later, I was offered a future trip to Israel, which would be with the Bar Mitzvah Club and was set for the summer of 1967, three years after the Bat Mitzvah. I chose wisely the trip over the party.
As it happened, the Six Day War was to interfere with my parents best laid plans and the trip was postponed to the following summer, 1968. We were a group of about 50 kids from all over the United States, grouped into two smaller groups, each of which traveled on its own bus. I kept a journal that summer and took many pictures, all of which are at home. Perhaps I will make an addendum to this post and add some of my journal and photographs when I get home.
This particular trip to Israel would end up being one of the 5 or 6 Defining Events of my life and it happened at the young and impressionable age of 16. Having seen both the horrors and despair within the walls of Israel's museum of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, http://www.yadvashem.org/ and the beauty of Jerusalem (where we had our home base for those two months at a former hospital called Zev), I was forever changed. I had learned about Israel in Hebrew School and my parents had been there even before the 6 Day War, but nothing was to prepare me for the depth of feelings and reactions only a 16 year old girl can have.
I was awed by the archeology, as for example when we arose at 4 AM to climb the snake path to the top of Mt. Masada, where the Jews who were called the Zealots, committed mass suicide, rather than submit to the Roman soldiers, in 73 CE, who captured this, the last Jewish stronghold. I was impressed by the Art as seen in the Chagall windows in the Synagogue at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and in the mystical city of Tzfat, in the Artists Quarter. So many things excited me then, but, perhaps what impressed me most was the city of Jerusalem. Where else on earth can you see prctically side by side a modern office buiding, the Stations of the Cross, Stamatsky's Bookstore, the Dome of the Rock, the modern Kenesset building (Parliament), The Tower of David, a Falafel Parlor and the Western Wall....all in walking distance one from the other?
There is a song, Western Wall, sung by Linda Rondstadt and Emmylou Harris, written by Roseanne Cash, on the CD: Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions CD. The lyrics say it rather well.....
I stand here by the Western Wall. Maybe a little of that wall stands inside us all
I shove my prayers in the crack. I've got nothing to lose, no one to answer back
All these years I've brought up for review. Wasn't taught this but I learned something new
And to answer the distant call. At the Western Wall
I've got a heart full of fear. And I offer it up on this altar of tears
Red dust settles deep in my skin. I don't know where it starts and where I begin
It's a crumbling pile of broken stones. It ain't much but it might be home
If I ever loved a place at all. It's the Western Wall
I don't know if God was ever a man. But if she was I think I understand
Why he found a place to break his fall, Near the Western Wall!
I'll end here and pick it up later.
שלום ו להטרוט