The word hanukkah means “dedication.” After the Jewish revolt in 165 BC against Syrian-Greek forces, the Temple in Jerusalem was left desolate, having been desecrated when juice from cooked pigs was poured over its altar. The book of 1 Maccabees describes the extent of the damage: “They saw the Temple laid desolate and the altar profaned and the gates burned and the courtyards overgrown with plants as ‘in a thicket’ or like ‘one of the mountains’ and the chambers laid in ruins.”Continue Reading »
When I heard there was a Bridges for Peace trip planned for Hezekiah’s Tunnel, I packed my backpack full with the necessary gear: a flashlight, camera, an extra pair of shoes and shorts, and a water bottle. When the day arrived, I was the first to arrive at our designated meeting point just inside the Dung Gate of the Old City, the exit from the Western Wall plaza. The majority of the participants were in what I call the “Silver Years Club,” all with a spirit of adventure.Continue Reading »
Professor Robert Aumann, the Israeli-American who won the Nobel Prize for economics last year, warned that Israel may not be capable of continuing its existence long term. Aumman moved from the United States to Israel in the 1950s.Continue Reading »
“This is the thought that never left my mind,” writes Natalya as she tells us her story of how she made aliyah (immigration to Israel). Life in Ukraine was hard for her and her husband. Sometimes they “had only bread and water to live on and went on foot to work, as there was not money for public transport fees.” They had no money to pay for utilities, and their debt grew. There was no money for home repair, so after ten years, “our apartment looked like a shed.” Proper food and new clothes were like a “far off dream” for them. “I went mad,” she said whenever she thought of ways to improve their life, because there were no options.Continue Reading »
As I was walking through the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, I spotted a sign hanging outside a Judaica shop that said “Torah Scribe” and sofer stam in Hebrew. Sofer means “scribe”; stam is an acronym for Sefer Torah (“book” of Torah, Gen.–Deut.), tefillin (phylacteries), and mezuzot (Scripture boxes affixed to doorways). In Orthodox circles, only a certified scribe can copy the Torah for a scroll, as well as the Scriptures inside the tefillin and mezuzot.Continue Reading »
Nearly all Jewish men and women serve in the Israeli army. Bedouin and Druze also are conscripted. Some Christians (mostly Arabs) volunteer. At the age of 18, young people are inducted into the army before they go to college. Young men serve for three years, and the young women for two. There is also compulsory reserve duty of up to 32 days a year for men under the age of 40. When Israel is attacked, the standing army engages the enemy. Reservists are called up if the conflict persists or is particularly intense. Most of Israel’s army consists of accountants, truck drivers, shopkeepers, dads, husbands, etc. In other words, the army is the guy next door.Continue Reading »
In July, Teri and I went on our first archaeological dig, for five days. The dig was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, as I’m not a young person anymore, and the work is physically quite demanding. However, I’m really glad I did it once and hope that my tale might encourage you to also consider going on a dig sometime.
Dor, an ancient natural seaport just north of Ceasarea, has been dug for 20 years. It is mentioned in the Bible several times. Joshua won it in battle (Josh. 11:1–12), and it became part of the tribe of Manasseh (Josh. 17:11–13). David’s unfortunate census included Dor (2 Sam. 24:1–7).Continue Reading »
Gary, who is overseeing the new young adult outreach of Bridges for Peace, and I went for a ride a couple of days ago. We decided that somebody needed to have fun in Israel. Most of my tour groups feature folks with white hair and they generally define fun slightly different than a young adult’s definition. Gary is young—at least by my standards. I, on the other hand, occasionally have “young” ideas. I like adventure. In fact, I am likely to try something just because I’ve never done it before. I guess I never really grew up in some ways.Continue Reading »
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