Hevreh’s Israel Trip

Reflections Along the Way

By Sharon Hotchkiss

Entering the Old City of Jerusalem–what an exciting and emotional experience! We began our day listening to a prominent imam from the Muslim community. We have been trying to understand issues facing Israel from various points of view–Jewish and Muslim, Orthodox and Liberal.

It was difficult to relate to someone who views the Temple Mount as a Muslim place where Jews can visit only as “guests.”

The whole area was crowded but Rabbi Hirsch and our terrific tour guide Natan, alongside our Palestinian guide Yusef, ushered us around the area leading us to the Western Wall, providing a wealth of information and insight. No matter how many times someone has visited, nothing can compare to the experience of being there. So many emotions–the pride in the tradition of our Jewish heritage, the closeness to our religious beliefs, and sharing all of this with friends.

We then visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I could not help wondering why, with the holiest places revered by people of the earth’s three major religions so close to one another, peace among them is so difficult to attain.

Next we enjoyed a delicious and well-orchestrated lunch in the market, sampling local foods, complete with dessert. We were then treated to a fascinating learning session with Rabbi Uri Regev, a highly esteemed attorney and rabbi  with whom Rabbi Hirsch had studied. We learned of the many legal problems facing Israel today, especially those related to marriage.

Our exhausting but enjoyable day, packed with information, emotion and contrasts, ended with a wonderful dinner at the Eucalyptus Restaurant including a wine-tasting provided by Elie Wurtman, Josh Bloom and Rabbi Gordon’s brother-in-law. He started a small winery in the north of Israel.

While all of the days on our trip have been great, today was truly a highlight.

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