Mealtime Moments

Dearest Rachel – While I’ve been writing you mostly about the places we’ve gone, the things we’ve seen (many of which might be at least of nodding familiarity to you, having been here several times before), there are other things going on that have little to do with the trip itself. Or maybe they haveContinue reading “Mealtime Moments”

An Ungodly Hour in God’s City

Dearest Rachel – There are many cities around the world that seem to pride themselves on being ‘the city that never sleeps.’ New York and San Francisco come to mind in particular, being celebrated in song to that effect. Jerusalem is not one of those places. On the contrary, part of its pride lies inContinue reading “An Ungodly Hour in God’s City”

Return to Israel

Dearest Rachel – After visiting Bethlehem and the shepherd’s caves, we head back into Israel proper. While we never needed our passports (because isn’t it still Israel? I mean, there is no separate country of Palestine at the moment), it has all the feel of a border crossing otherwise. As we arrive at Nebe Samuel,Continue reading “Return to Israel”

Shopportunities

Dearest Rachel – The first time we heard this phrase was the last time we were in Israel. Our guide, Irad, claimed no credit for it; he had, on a recent tour previous, been asked about them from a pair of twenty-something girls, and liked the expression so much as to ask permission to borrowContinue reading “Shopportunities”

Losing Sharpness

Dearest Rachel – I’m not going to claim that this wouldn’t have happened if you were still here with me. You did a lot of the packing for our many trips, to be sure, but there were certain personal things that were left up to me to handle. In fact, I would generally be theContinue reading “Losing Sharpness”

Praise Allah, It’s Thursday

Dearest Rachel – I gather that just by using this title, I’m marking myself as an impious infidel; however, I can’t help but wonder if, since their day of worship is tomorrow, and they party tonight, whether Muslims have a similar attitude toward Thursday evening as we Westerners tend to think of Friday, and thankContinue reading “Praise Allah, It’s Thursday”

A Stone’s Throw Away

Dearest Rachel – As we drive off from our lunch stop (and that’s a quick story for another time), Yael discusses the reforestation of Israel; it would seem that it was denuded of trees in the late nineteenth century for hardwood to build a rail line between Istanbul and Mecca/Medina for hajj travelers. Over 90%Continue reading “A Stone’s Throw Away”

Calm Amid the Chaos

Dearest Rachel – Since thus far, we really haven’t had the time for shopping, it would seem that merchants have decided to come to us. I mentioned about Junior plugging tattoos yesterday; today, we had a guy aboard the bus, shilling personalized necklaces and rings. I’m not gonna lie, I was briefly tempted to getContinue reading “Calm Amid the Chaos”

This You Cannot Make Me Do

Dearest Rachel – The climax of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the moment when Scrooge brushes the snow away from the tombstone of the ‘unknown’ man he had seen lying dead earlier in his travels with the Spirit of Christmas Future. It’s the turning point in which he realizes how worthless his life hasContinue reading “This You Cannot Make Me Do”

The Sacred and the Secular in the City of the Savior

Dearest Rachel – We hear the bleat of a horn (and I’m not kidding – it drops a tone mid-honk) as we step off the bus this morning. It’s normal for the inhabitants, but it’s odd for us to land on an angle this steep. At least it’s easy to make our way out ofContinue reading “The Sacred and the Secular in the City of the Savior”

The City of David

Dearest Rachel – “♫ Jerusalem, if I forget youLet my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do ♪” We bounce in to the strains of reggae, if you can believe it.  Jordan claims it’s a tradition among us at the Bridge, but I don’t recall that from past visits to Jerusalem.  Our first timeContinue reading “The City of David”

Streams and Songs in the Desert

Dearest Rachel – We’re warned not allowed to eat, drink, smoke or feed the animals as we make our way into the En Gedi nature preserve. I wonder about smoking the animals for eating, but Daniel nudges me like you would for a crack like that – which I probably deserve. I thought that EnContinue reading “Streams and Songs in the Desert”

Confusingly Early

Dearest Rachel – Morning at the Royal Dead Sea hotel, and we get our wake-up call at 6 o’clock.  That’s half an hour earlier than we’ve ever had a wake-up call, and actually earlier than I’ve set my alarm for today.  It makes me wonder if we have enough time to get ourselves put together, outContinue reading “Confusingly Early”

Not Going South Just Yet

Dearest Rachel – It’s 8 a.m., and we’re underway – to some applause, as we actually pulled out at 7:59. Considering that I felt like I was being order to be ready to go by 7:45 (and I know, I shouldn’t take it personally if I’m not the one guilty of being late) I don’tContinue reading “Not Going South Just Yet”

Our Dinner With Omer

Dearest Rachel – Omer’s home overlooks the cliffs of Gadara (the site, as I always say, of the original deviled ham), and the city of Susita, on the northern half of the Sea of Galilee. Basically, to hear Omer tell it, he can see where half the events of the New Testament took place fromContinue reading “Our Dinner With Omer”

Galilee Afternoon

Dearest Rachel – Sunday dinnerOn the shore of Galilee At a… Chinese restaurant? Actually no, we’re not eating at the Pagoda this time. But, we find ourselves eating outdoors in November – another unfamiliar combination of concepts for a group of Chicago natives. But as time wears on, and the sun beats down on us, evenContinue reading “Galilee Afternoon”

By the Waters of Jordan and Galilee

Dearest Rachel – For the third time in my life, I’m here at Yardenit – the banks of the Jordan. Junior asks me if I’m going in, and I respond in the negative.  I’ve already been, after all – there’s no need to be baptized twice.  Indeed, you’ll recall that neither of us had beenContinue reading “By the Waters of Jordan and Galilee”

Dan in the North

Dearest Rachel – No, this has nothing to do with Daniel being with me as we head to the northernmost point of Israel (at least, not at first); this area was named Dan long before that. I should point out that I haven’t been bringing our itinerary with us; since I’m not the one driving,Continue reading “Dan in the North”

Blessed Are…

Dearest Rachel – After barely making the bus (it looks like I’m starting to fall into your habits, sweetheart), we listen to a little recent history from Yael as we travel to the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the Sea of Galilee; basically, that of the two-state proposal as drawn up in 1948 (and summarily rejectedContinue reading “Blessed Are…”

On the Edge of Shabbat

Dearest Rachel – For all our familiarity with certain Jewish traditions – and ever more so, now that Logan is living with us (although he cheerfully agrees with my assessment of him as a ‘cheeseburger Jew,’ which is to say, rather loose with regard to the strictures of his religion) – Israel proper takes whatContinue reading “On the Edge of Shabbat”

The Site of Armageddon?

Dearest Rachel – It’s a strange thing to consider; while we’re well aware that the name Armageddon comes from a specific place – the valley of Megiddo, where we are now heading to – it goes against our understanding to think of the end of the world happening in a single specific place. Armageddon seemsContinue reading “The Site of Armageddon?”

Cleared For Takeoff

Dearest Rachel – It was one of those silly things that we would occasionally quote at each other when the circumstances warranted it – which is to say, when we were completely prepared and ready to leave on a trip: And it would seem that we finally have clearance (Clarence?) once again. As close asContinue reading “Cleared For Takeoff”