October 14, 2013
My brother and his wife, Michael & Karen, visited Israel again. They live in Surrey, near Vancouver. They have been several times before. So how on Earth could we entertain them for 2 weeks, in this oh-so tiny country?
Well, there’s the obvious: they met our grandchildren for the very first time…and re-met our daughters, whom they love….
They experienced interesting events while they were here:
The passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, leader of the Sephardic Jewish community and the Shas political party. They say that 750,000 attended his funeral in Jerusalem – masses of black-clad religious…Whether religious or not, one could not deny the man’s greatness, his knowledge of the bible, his great wisdom on Jewish law, and his frequent outspokenness against those with whom he disagreed.
The 18th anniversary of the killing of Yitzhak Rabin. An estimated 35,000 gathered in Rabin Square, centre of Tel Aviv, next to the spot where the tragic event occurred.
There was the dog fun-run in Hayarkon park – many thousands of yapping animals – and their dogs.
In Yakum, they held the first-ever Vegan festival, attended by over 10,000. (Don’t ask me…just enjoy re-stating that this country is aggressively normal!).
Tom Jones was in town for a show. No, we didn’t attend. (Rihanna and Charles Aznavour are due next week – not appearing together).
They were able to speak to Israelis about the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’: Iran’s Rouhani pouring honey all over Ahmadinejad’s hatred of Israel.
And hear of Syrian victims of the civil war there, being treated in Israeli hospitals.
They walked in malls and on beaches, again fascinated by the numbers of Israeli Arabs, mingling with their fellow-Jewish citizens.
They loved the beaches, some of course in the very centre of Tel Aviv; the drama of seeing green in the desert, where kibbutzim have brought in irrigation and are growing such a variety of produce; the emptiness of many areas: a reminder of the contrasts of smallness, squeezed population and the expanse of the Galileen hills, the Jordan valleys and the Negev sands.
In Jerusalem, we paid respect to Judaism’s holiest site..the Wailing Wall – we call it ‘Ha Kotel’ – watched a boy and his family celebrating his Bar Mitzva, his ‘coming of age’…
And finally, at the wonderful Sheruver Promenade, kilometres of paths with such photogenic views of the Old City, we met Chaim and his secretary, seated on a wall.
He’s originally American, but has lived in Israel all his life. The kind of guy who you KNOW knows every stone and crack of this incredible city. He’s a guide – although we did not find out whether professional or not. He immediately started pointing out sites to us. You HAD to love the guy – and you HAVE to love this country.
Michael & Karen are already planning their next visit – God willing (Inch-Allah, as they say…).