Another missive from our friends and family in Israel! They have been incredibly busy—since last they reported, they have stopped in Jerusalem, Masada, and Tel Aviv. Here is what Rabbi Weitzman has to say:
Although I suppose we should say “Shabbat Shalom” as our time continues in the Holy City of Jerusalem on Saturday morning. Waking up, we headed to Kehillat Har-El, the oldest Reform community in Jerusalem. As we were welcomed by Cantor Evan Cohen, we were so grateful for just a little bit of home as many of the tunes we sang reminded us of CRS. Spending time talking with this wonderful community was just the grace of Shabbat that we all needed.
Out afternoons diverged for a number of options—some restful and some busy. Either way, it was perfect. The air in Jerusalem is special, and something that we wish we could bring back with us. Every turn and every moment is another story. Walking from street to street you can see the layers of history and the imprint of those thousands of generations who came before us. What a gift to be able to add our own story to that history.
Saturday evening we were joined by Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, the Rabbi Emeritus of Kol Haneshama—a sister community of our own CRS. Rabbi Levi inspired us with his words as Cantor Garfein and I led a beautiful Havdalah service in Gan Ha’atzmaut. Though none of us were really that hungry, we ate an AMAZING meal at Moroccan restaurant called Darna, complete with rose tea and spicy tagine. Our bodies and minds were satiated by Shabbat.
Sunday was a tough day for those of us who were old enough, as we spent the morning at Yad Vashem. We stood together and heard the stories of those lives that were senselessly taken. It really gave meaning to being able to stand in Jerusalem so many years later. We truly felt how important it is that we are still here and that Israel remains a home for the Jewish people. At the end of our tour, Cantor Garfein led us in a short memorial moment as we chanted “Eli, Eli”. We will take this moment with us forever.
In an interesting transition, we spent the afternoon at Machane Yehudah—the shuk (market) of Jerusalem. Wow—that was a bustling place! Packed with people yelling and trying to get you to buy their olives, lettuce, spices, and bears—oh my! After some time off, we were joined by Rabbi Ofek Meir from Leo Baeck in Haifa at a local restaurant. Those of us still awake saw an amazing light show that told the history of Jerusalem in the Old City.
Monday morning was EARLY! We woke up at 5:45 AM to get to the ancient fort in the desert, Masada. Built by King Herod at the turn of the millennium, this archaeological site remains a mystery and a wonder. Despite the 113-degree temperature in the shade, we made it to the top (via cable car, of course). We were in awe of the natural beauty of the Judean Desert and the views from Herod’s palace.
A little time at the Dead Sea followed, where we basked in sea salt, mud, pools, and of course sunscreen. Our skin revived and clear of toxins, we made our way to the White City—Tel Aviv. While watching the sunset over the Mediterranean, we are sad to think that the final leg of our trip is here.
Erev Tov from Tel Aviv,
Rabbi Greg Weitzman, 2019
As much as we know they will miss Israel, we are indeed looking forward to our family members’ return. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the past few days: