ב"ה

TRIP DIARY 2016 DAY 2

Photos by Bentzi Sasson & Mendy Hechtman

Day 2 – Tuesday

The second day of the JLI Land & Spirit trip to Israel was equally inspirational and educational. After morning greetings from Knesset member Yoel Hasson at Intercontinental and Mrs. Esther Piekarski at the Hilton hotel, we split into four groups, each departing to their unique experience for the day.

The first group was lucky to learn about an important link in the chain of our heritage in Tzippori. The ancient town established just before the Common Era, was the home-seat of Rabbi Judah the Prince and the supreme rabbinic court in the second and third century at the time of his monumental codification of the Mishnah that preserved the oral tradition for all future generations. The beautiful town features many excavated buildings including the intricate mosaic floor of an early synagogue.

From there, they went to explore the cobblestone streets and alleys of the holy city of Tsfat, visiting the synagogues and study halls of the famed Kabbalists of the 16th Century as well as the mystically-inspired art and music of the contemporary Jewish artists who reside there. Some visited the holy resting sites of influential Rabbis and scholars in the historic cemetery in Tsfat and dipped in the chilly, mystical Mikvah of the holy AriZal located on the cemetery’s edge.

The second group explored the historic port of Akko, the northernmost border of Israel at the time of the dispersion of the Jews after the Second Temple’s destruction. The group explored Crusader and Ottoman ruins and traced the tumultuous history of the Jews during those periods. The learned of the port’s historic role in Napoleon’s attempt to conquer the Holy land, as well as in the fight for modern day Israel’s independence. The group than went on to the towering bone-white rock cliffs and grottoes of Rosh HaNikra at the border with Lebanon that contrast stunningly with the azure waters. At the border they received a lesson in Israeli security and the history and role of the skirmishes on the border with Lebanon.

The third group explored the Tel-Aviv-Jaffa region including the ancient port of Jaffa, the gateway to the holy land for generations of travelers who arrived at her shores by ship and the site of Jonah’s famous sail to Tarshish. The group also learned of the key role Jaffa played in the War of Independence on 1948. They went on a trip to the famous Museum and its experiential education about the history of Jewish communities around the world. They enjoyed the popular arts and crafts market on the Nachalat Binyamin Promenade that is a vibrant market for artists and artisans from all over Israel who sell their creations directly to the public there. The day ended with learning directly from Asher Abreham and other leaders in Israel’s high-tech industry, about the region’s Silicon Wadi and Israel’s key role in the international high-tech market.

The fourth group went on a Biblical tour of the Jezreel Valley walking in the footsteps of the Biblical Prophets, Judges and Kings. Starting with Mt. Megiddo which lies at the crossroads of the trade routes connecting Mesopotamia and Egypt. The strategic importance of the site created many battles in the area over thousands of years with many layers of fortification including from King Solomon and King Ahab. From there they proceeded to the overlook of the Jezreel Valley where King Ahab built his castle and was challenged by the Prophet Elijah. Here too is where the Gideon the Judge led the Israelites to battle against the Midianites. He reduced his army to just 300 men based on how they drank water from the brook in the Valley. With G-d's help and a surprise attack this small army defeated the much larger army at the nearby Mt. Moreh. The final stop of the day was at Mt. Gilboa where King Saul and his sons fought their final battle against the Philistines in which they were killed and King Saul fell on his own sword to avoid capture. Walking where our ancestors created so much history of our people, brought to life the history of the Bible and our ancestors.

All of the groups were excited to meet back at the hotel in Tel Aviv, spend some personal time exploring the evening in the modern metropolis and then get some, much-needed rest before another exciting day.