Rabbi Metz’ Israeli Visit, part 2

January 24, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Rabbi Metz’ Israeli Visit, part 2

Good morning,

Please read the following thoughts on my past few days in Israel and share your thoughts with me at Rabbi.SaraMetz@gmail.com

Shabbat in Jerusalem is an incredible and special experience.  While the city does not stop, it slows.

On my walk to Shabbat services through the winding streets of Jerusalem, I walked down many streets without any cars.  It felt as though the city was taking a communal deep breath.  As the day passed, more cars joined the streets, yet still many fewer were on the streets than during the week.

We heard from amazing speakers who spoke from different viewpoints.  First, Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former member of Knesset, Chief Rabbi of Norway and global interfaith activist, spoke of America’s relationship with Israel.  We also heard from a pomelo farmer from a kibbutz the Arava desert.  His orchard is on the border with Jordan.  In the past, he has become friendly with Jordanians and has left crates of pomelos for the Jordanian soldiers to try to create good relations in his own way.  He is only one person, and peace will not happen with the pomelo fruit only, but there are many such stories. Each of these stories gets us a bit closer.

On Shabbat afternoon, we walked in the Old City to tour the Christian quarter.  It was an incredible experience to see my Christian colleagues come to places they have only seen in pictures.  One Roman Catholic priest said through tears in his eyes that he has seen pictures and dreamed of this place since he was a little boy.  Through my peers, I am seeing first hand the different perspectives that make up the holy city of Jerusalem.  Together I am creating partnerships with my colleagues to experience and learn about Israel and each other.

On Sunday, we visited the city of Shiloh which was the ancient capital of Israel and the place where the tabernacle stood in biblical times.  Archeologists are finding ceramic pots, coins and even mosaics from thousands of years ago.  They even found a mosaic from Roman times with writing on it that tells the name of the place as Shilo. This told the archeologists that they had definitely found the ancient city of Shilo.

From this ancient Israeli and biblical town, we drove farther into the West Bank to a new Palestinian town being built, called Rawabi.  It is being built to be a different kind of Palestinian City, that is clean, modern and environmentally sustainable. The city seemed to be built into the side of a mountain straight up.  They have a shopping center with many American brands including American Eagle and Porsche.  They also have a zip line and an outdoor sports center.  The developer, Bashar el Masri’s goal is to create many jobs and uplift the Palestinian people to greater heights.

The next day, on Monday we traveled north into the Golan to a beautiful overlook. There we saw a group of soldiers also gathering to learn about the area. We looked out onto vineyards, fields and Israeli buildings. When we looked just a bit farther onto the horizon, we saw many UN buildings and the Syrian border.  At times bits of smoke can be seen on the horizon as it travels from ammunition and fighters into the air.  Israel has treated over 4,000 Syrians in their hospitals to date. The first fighter Israel healed was someone who was badly injured and required brain surgery. When he awoke, he needed to be subdued multiple times before he could calmly understand that he was alive, in Israel and it was the doctors here who saved his life.  Israeli doctors act on their commitment to medically treat and heal all peoples. This is another example of people one by one who are creating relationships to further peace.

Through my conversations with the interfaith clergy, I have had the incredible opportunity to see Israel through their eyes.  To see this incredibly modern, biblical and nuanced place through another person with a completely different background has helped to me to widen my own perspective.  The conflict here is complicated as are the different viewpoints. It is only by coming together in conversation that any progress can be made.

I look forward to talking more with you and hearing your thoughts and questions.
Rabbi Metz

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal