Sunday, July 20, 2008
Off to Israel
Well, I should be packing. As in, cramming enough for nine days into as small a suitcase as I can, lest I pay more than necessary for airline baggage charges. You see, we're off to Israel.
This is the fourth annual tour that I'll be, um, "taking" to the Holy Land, and what I mean by that is that I'm accompanying the big draw for a group of 200 fans. Given that we have family in Jerusalem, and that my daughter spent a year in seminary there, over the past four years I've made this journey six times. Eight times in all.
Still, when you approach the kotel, the Western wall surrounding the Temple Mount, the ruach, spirituality, is palpable. All the headlines about danger lurking everywhere dissolve into normal days of touring and visiting family, whose daily routine differs little from ours at home. Jerusalem is a relatively small city, in a teensy country, and floating in the Dead Sea, climbing the scorched paths in Masada, peering out the air-conditioned bus windows at date palms and irrigated fields and sandy stretches has a special wonder to it, because this is the land of our forefathers, the land God chose as the microcosm of everywhere.
So, I won't be adding to my blog while away. I don't check email; I don't travel with a laptop. The days are action-packed and people-rich, and somehow when you tread ruins thousands of years old, the urgency of the Internet is less potent, and the importance of living and surviving--in a desert, as a people, and as a nation, become paramount.
We'll be traveling for 27 hours to get there, on a Jewish fast day (17th of Tammuz) so this should be interesting. I plan to stay up all night tonight on last minute laundry, folding and cramming, so that I can spend most of my non-imbibing hours asleep. There's always that pre-journey mix of excitement and reluctance that I feel now, but I'm readying my camera and spare batteries and plan to return with some fascinating stories to tell. In the meantime, enjoy the sweet luxuries of summer...