... Jerusalem ... 22 Just as the new earth and the new heavens will endure by my power, so your descendants and your name will endure ... Isaiah 66 (GNT), 18 ... Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and its PALACE restored. Jeremiah 30:18 (GNT)

11
December
2019

A Visit to Jerusalem: A Rain Drop

'No, we do not go to Gaza.' ... 'No, no, no taxi to Gaza.'

July 2014, we were getting ready to go on our second visit to Jerusalem, Israel. Although we were sure this was going to be a nice summer vacation, we had some concerns about it.
Operation Protective Edge of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) was ongoing in Israel. The Gaza war, which started on the 8 of July, and would continue for seven weeks. What led to this war? The kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank by two Hamas members from Hebron. Also, Hamas fired rockets into Israel as a response to IDF Operation Brother's Keeper.  We had booked our flight to Israel months before all of this started. Despite all this, we decided it was safe for us to go to Jerusalem. We stayed the two last weeks of July in Jerusalem. But, because of the ongoing war we decided not to go to Bethlehem this time.

 

The Apartment

The first time we went to Israel was in February 2010. Back then we stayed at hotel Ramat Rachel on one of the hills of Jerusalem. Now we wanted to stay closer to the Old City. So we rented an apartment on walking distance to the city center, in the neigbourhood of Rehavia, for a stay of two weeks. One of the first things the man renting the apartment told us was where we could find shelter in case the sirens go off. He also told us how many seconds we had to find shelter. There were two options for us. The bunker down the street and the staircase of the apartment block.

On our walks through Jerusalem's streets we found out that our apartment turned out to be on a street where the Jerusalem residence of Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was located, and in a street close by, that of Israel's President Shimon Peres. If you take a walk along the street towards the city center, into another street, you would pass by the US Consulate. Sometimes we noticed that much was happening in the country during the time we were there.

 

Israel Museum, White Sand On The Floor

During our stay we visited some nice and interesting places and sites in Jerusalem. Such as the Biblical Zoo, the Great Synagogue, the Israel Museum, Moshe Quarter neighbourhood, the Menorah in the Old City. The Zoo was like an oases, a beautiful green park with river like water, lots of shade, and nice environments for the animals. The Great Synagogue was quiet different than for instance the very modern New Synagogue in Dresden East Germany. But, all synagogues have similar characteristics when it comes to the lay out of the space inside. Something you don’t find in every synagogue is white sand on the floor.

At the Israel Museum in Jerusalem we took a guided tour. A very professional and knowledgeable elderly lady took us too several collections of the museum. One was the interior of a Synagogue from Suriname, South America. I noticed the white sand on the floor. This brought me back to my childhood, to the time I was on primary school in Willemstad, the capital city of the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Once, on a school excursion, we went to Snoa. Officially, the Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue Curaçao, which was consecrated in 1732 by Sephardi Jews. The only thing I vividly remember of that visit, was the white sand on the floor and wondering about that. To me white sand belonged on the beaches of Curaçao’s beautiful bays. Back then, I didn’t know much about the Jewish people, nor about their synagogues. I only knew about their ancient history through biblical scripture, and later on about what happened to millions of Jews during World War II, the Holocaust. But, the lady at the Israel Museum told us about the significance of this white sand. Later on I also looked it up.

It’s a tradition of Sephardi Dutch Portuguese Jews, who found refuge in the Netherlands, and later on left Europe, in order to escape Europe’s antisemitism. Centuries ago they established themselves in the New World, the continent of America and the islands of the Caribbean. Only synagogues in that part of the world had this tradition. The white sand on the floor is meant to remind members of the congregation about two events in Jewish history. The forty years the Israelites wondered in the desert, and the use of white sand to muffle the sound of the songs and prayers of their ancestors during the persecution in Europe. Today only a few synagogues, including Snoa, kept this tradition.

 

Temple Mount, Support

The first place we wanted to visit was the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. February 2010, we already went up to the Temple Mount. It wasn't a problem going up together with some tourists. 

But this time, the man at the gate, who was friendly, told us this wasn't possible due to the war. He also added that every one had a family member or knew someone in the IDF. He himself seemed a bit sad because of that. To stay informed on the situation in Israel, we saw the international news on television and we bought the Jerusalem Post news paper. I remember one time the news paper had on the last page, a large page full advertisement of El Al in support of the IDF. The Israeli soldiers were the ones keeping us safe in Israel. One day, in the supper market, where we bought our groceries, there was a group of young people who were asking customers to support the IDF soldiers.

 

Police in the Street

Our apartment, on the third floor, was at the last part of Gaza or Aza street going up in the direction of Jerusalem's city center. It was a quiet, nice street. With a playground, a small grocery store, a small shop at the bus stop, a pizzeria where you could get a nice slice of pizza, and what we loved the most, an ice cream parlor where you could get Norwegian ice cream. After every stroll in the evening we went for some ice cream. We really enjoyed that.

The street was closed once on both sides, and there was police and a sort of squad in the street. We didn't know what was going on, but we didn't feel unsafe. As a matter of fact, there wasn't ever a moment during our vacation that we felt unsafe. Later on we found out that all this was because of a package that was found on the playground. 
One day, after we heard on international news that people were advised not to travel to Israel because of the war, we saw a lot of security and official black cars going through our street. We were wondering what was going on. It became clear to us that the US secretary of state John Kerry was in one of those cars. While tourist were warned not to come to Israel, he did. So, it was safe in Israel after all. Why was Kerry in Jerusalem? The peace talks, that were initiated by US President Barak Obama in March 2013, failed. They were suspended in April 2014. Kerry was on his way to meet with President Shimon Peres to talk about this situation.

 

Western Wall Tunnel

We didn't get the chance to go up to the Temple Mount, but, that same day while walking over the  the Western Wall square, we discovered by chance an entrance at the other side of the square, under one of the arches. There you can enter a sort of tunnel, the  Western Wall Tunnel. At that moment there was a group of people  going inside with a guide. We quickly payed the fee for the guided tour and went with the group.


It was a very interesting tour, that takes you through a tunnel along the largest stone with which the wall of the Temple Mount was build, but, also close to the Western Wall where people said prayers. It seemed to be the point where a person is allowed to come as closest to the Holy of Holiest, which was supposed to be on the Temple Mount itself. At that place, the guide spoke of people praying, asking for rain. At the time, it was  the dry season in Israel, with a clear blue sky. Me and my family also took a moment of silence to pray.

 

After the tour, once outside, it was a bit cloudy and I felt a drop of rain on my cheek. That is the only rain drop I felt during our stay. Still, rain, even one drop, is a blessing in Israel.

 

The Taxi

A taxi?

'No, we do not go to Gaza.' 'We want a taxi to take us from Gaza street to the airport.' 'No, no, no taxi to Gaza.'

My husband had to go personally to the office where he arranged the taxi to take us to Ben Gurion Airport.
So, the taxi driver did go to Gaza after all. To Gaza / Aza street, that is.

We hope to visit Israel, Jerusalem and David's town of Bethlehem again.

 

Blessings to you,

 

23
July
2012

Dresden a visit: a lasting impression!

Ninety percent of Dresden was destroyed by the bombing of the Allied Forces by the end of the second World War in February 1945. Before that Jews were deported in large numbers. What became of Dresden's Jewish Community?

So, this year our vacation took us to the city of Dresden. What's the impression this city made on me?

17
March
2011

A Symphony of Hope

The 26th of March 2011 we went to a concert of the Hineni Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra that performs out of solidarity with the Israeli people and to support survivors of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. Personally I wasn't brought up with the orchestra music genre, but the aim of this orchestra appealed to me, and ...

02
March
2011

Bethlehem: heavy rain!

Entrance to the Milk Grotto, Bethlehem

Bethlehem, the place where Rachel, Jacob's second wife, was buried alongside the road. Also where Ruth the Moabite married and lived with her second husband Boaz. It's where King David was borne and raised. And where Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ) was borne.

Nowadays ...