All people should have the opportunity to visit. Not only to stroll the promenade along the Tel Aviv coast, walk at night among the mysterious shadows during the powerfully moving call to prayer in Old Jaffa , smell the hyssops in the Jerusalem Arab quarter and at the spice mill in Nazareth, or appreciate the upscale, high tech kitchen, bath and lighting design showrooms at the old port in Tel Aviv, the high tech industrial centers in Herzliya and near the Technion in Haifa, but also to help each of us identify our world view, and to experience a reminder of how far good can go in a short time, when people pull together for a commmon dream.
Goldie, Rejean, Lou and I came away from our trip feeling relaxed and loved. Each day, Goldie and I made a pact that we would look for at least one story, and take away heart-felt connection with a stranger. We talked with a soldier about a curious sign above a shop window, an artist-emmigrant in Old Jaffa, a woman at HaCarmel Market who felt that her street was the Fifth Avenue of Tel Aviv, and a young US student who was on temporary assignment to guard the entrance of the Bahai Gardens.
From Ida and Itzik Graff's fabulous dinner, to Orna and Rami Keren's insistence that we begin our trip with a tour of the Ayalon Institute, to the experiences we shared leaving our prayers and messages at the Western Wall, hiking up 1300+ feet to Masada , experiencing the cave-like atmosphere at Yad Vashem, dipping our feet in the Sea of Galilee, floating in the Dead Sea, seeing first-hand the remnants of the Dead Sea scrolls, walking the rampart around the old city in Jerusalem, and exploring Caesaria at moonlight, to Goldie's cousins Eton and Edith ensuring we had the most qualified Jerusalem guide in the city, we came away with a healthier appreciation for our history and people, greater affection for family, deeper and stronger ties with friends, and memories which will last a lifetime.
What I discovered was that people's choice made a difference in the world: boldness and forsight to make bullets under the nose of the enemy, choosing death over becoming Roman slaves, and courage to become the first disciple of a man condemned, as Simon Peter chose to follow Christ.
What these people did had impact on their world and our world as well. That they did not see themselves as powerless. That is what inspired and engaged me and is what I found most amazing and gratifying about our visit to this defiant and proud little country we claim as our heritage.