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”

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”

The Last Stand

Dearest Rachel – We’re back at Masada yet again; and although it doesn’t factor into the Biblical record, it seems to be de rigeur for a tourist in Israel to visit, it would seem. It’s a symbol of heroism for Israelis, despite involving what was effectively mass suicide, a serious breach of Jewish morality. However,Continue reading “The Last Stand”

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”

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”

A Light from the Heights

Dearest Rachel – After lunch at Caesarea Philippi, we take an hour-long ride into the Golan Heights (still a part of the Galilee region), to a town called Gamla. You would think that a nation barely the size of Rhode Island wouldn’t have such long drives from place to place, and yet, here we are.Continue reading “A Light from the Heights”

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”

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?”

A Wish to Return

Dearest Rachel – Last night, I found myself dreaming about our trip to San Antonio, and wishing we could go back there. I’m not entirely sure why. Oh, don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of good reasons to want to. The place we stayed at was really quite something, with its expansive room andContinue reading “A Wish to Return”

Closing Night

Dearest Rachel – And so, the curtain goes up on the curtain going down. Last full day aboard ship. After taking care of some bills and an email (which may become important later on, we’ll all have to tune in and find out), I decided to add upstairs, and see if I had better luckContinue reading “Closing Night”

Only A Test

Dearest Rachel – I’ve already told you about the alarm that actually went out a couple of days ago regarding health emergencies. This morning, while I was writing you, the call went out again; this time, it was ‘Bravo, Bravo, Bravo’: a fire aboard ship. I had to catch myself and recall that, barely tenContinue reading “Only A Test”

Makin’ My Way Downtown

Dearest Rachel – I’m sure you’ve picked up by now the fact that I feel like a man out of place. For the last thirty hours or so, I’ve been a man out of time as well. For whatever reason, when we were paused outside of Kingston, my phone switched over to what I presumeContinue reading “Makin’ My Way Downtown”

‘Lost’ in Basel

Dearest Rachel – It’s a bit of a misnomer to say this about myself. Especially in the daytime; the old city isn’t that big that you can truly get lost in it. You just aren’t where you want to be. I determined that I wanted to check out the Cartoonmuseum; the Kunstmuseum is just aContinue reading “‘Lost’ in Basel”