On Friday we awoke to sunrise over the Kinneret! I took a run along the promenade, and welcomed Eyal Levy, an AHA alum serving in the IDF tank corps, to our group for the day.
We began with renewal at the tranquil baptismal site of Yardenit. I felt the presence of my friends, Reverend Howard Chubbs, z"l and Claudette Burroughs White, z"l and I missed hearing Amazing Grace with my friend Iris Johnson, z"l.
We drove along the Jordan and Jericho in the West Bank and entered Jerusalem via a stop atop Mount Scopus where Arlene miraculously appeared with sparkling wine and a HUGE challah for a shehechyanu!
Circling around the city, we found the 9-11 memorial placed purposely - as it was built right underneath the new TLV-Jerusalem high speed train and across the valley from Har Hamenuchot. The memorial features an American flag engulfed in flames with a piece of the steel beam from WWII. It is the only place outside of the U.S. where all of the 3000+ names are engraved around the memorial. A park and bike path are next door.
And as we descended out of the bus in downtown Jerusalem, I ran into Michael Wise, the former Akron/Buffalo federation director who heads up a foundation called Honeymoon Israel, bringing newlyweds to Israel for $900! Hallie and Danny?
Then onto our final stop for the afternoon, Machane Yehudah where I found Dori gluten-free bread, rolls, sage, marzipan rugelach (hot out of the oven), teas made from pomegranate and halava. Eyal Levy and I shopped together and had melawach for lunch! Yum!! (My stomach still remembers!) We reached our final hotel, and my personal favorite, the Inbal and then had maybe 45 mins to prepare for Shabbat.
After lighting candles together in the lobby, we went to the Kotel - to the Robinson's arch area to sing. There was a synagogue group from Cherry Hill, NJ. One woman knew Gail! Their rabbi and Eli are old friends and as we came physically together, we started dancing together! Frenzied and fun! And then off we walked next door to the more solemn mood of Shabbat at the Kotel Plaza. Some members of our group prayed, some just stood in awe, some marveled and some cried.
About half of our group took the bus back and half of us walked back to the hotel (about 30 minutes) where we greeted Shabbat along with some guests.
Marilyn Forman Chandler