On The Road to Tel Aviv, Ceasarea and Kiryat Tivon
Today was a whirlwind of experiences, emotions and sites so amazing it's almost impossible to put into words. I did not know what to expect of my first trip to Israel, and our first full day was so much more than I could have imagined - if that's even possible!
We began in Tel Aviv, at the Israeli Museum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center. The museum is built in a downward spiral, telling 2 parallel stories - a time line of Israel's history and a biography of Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was known for his peace efforts; the ultimate irony was his assassination on November 4, 1995 at a peace rally. Comparisons were made to the assassination of President Kennedy. It reminded me of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. So many lives lost in search of peace and freedom.
We learned much about Yitzhak Rabin - the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the State of Israel at the time of his death - about the turmoils in this volatile region and the continuing struggles of so many. From everyone I spoke with before, during and after this tour, the sentiment is that the majority of Israelis favor peaceful resolution to the conflict. My lasting impression comes from a quote at the end of the exhibit by Yehuda Amichai regarding tolerance - "From the place where we are right flowers will never grow in the spring."
Our next stop goes back in history some two thousands years! The ruins at Ceasarea are north of Tel Aviv, along the Israeli Mediterranean coast. We first stop at the aqueduct - an ancient engineering marvel!
As if that weren't enough, our next stop is at the Bet She'arim National Park, built on the top of a hill, over an underground Jewish cemetery! The caves date back nearly 2 centuries, but weren't discovered until 1936 - by accident! Once excavated, the public was allowed to explore the winding caves and ancient sarcophagi. An incredible historical experience!
Our final stop is a visit to our Sister Congregation in Kiryat Tivon, one of only a handful of reform congregations in Israel. We light the last Hanukkah candles together, led by Rabbi Corrie Zeidler of Congregation Ma'alot Tivon. Incredibly moving.
More adventures to come!