May 27, 2018 - The Start of the Mission

Three flights later and one lost bag, I arrived in Jerusalem.  Again, I was reminded of how much I miss the Israel of my youth: a more provincial, struggling country, where everyone is grateful for having air to breath and people with which to associate.  Stepping off the plane and into a state of the art jetway which leads to a modern world class airport is usually something to be admired.  But I get nostalgic and long for the days when you stepped out of the plane into a blast of heat and brilliance of the Judean sun atop a stairway leading to the tarmac.  In those days, it was not uncommon to see people actually drop to their knees and kiss the ground of Israel.  We would then board a shuttle bus to take us to the immigration hall, where everyone would jockey for position in line.  Today, computer screens and digital displays abound, there are few lines, though I did get a taste of the old Israel as I tried to fill out my missing luggage paperwork.  Maybe the modern system isn't so bad.  

My "sheirut" a communal taxi like Super Shuttle, gave me an extensive tour of Jerusalem, even passing the apartment in which Dara, Quin, and I lived.  This trip down memory lane came at a price though, and I was late for my dinner reception.  I did manage to connect with everyone and discuss tomorrows plan to explore issues surrounding "settlements."

Up at 6 for a run with an old friend, followed by breakfast and tefillah.  A dialogue with Dr. Alek Isaacs of Herew University Rothberg School entitled A Prophetic Peace - Judaism, Religion and Politics.  Then we head across the "green line," the 1948 armisist borders heading to Gush Etzion.  About an hour out of Jerusalem, we will find ourselves at the illegal settlement of Pnei Kedem for a discussion with Rabbi Gabe Reiss.  A quick stop at Alon Shrut, the Lone Oak Tree, to recall the story of the cluster of Israeli communities known as the Etzion Block.  By 1:00, we will engage in a study session with Rabbi Moshe Lichtenstein and students of the Yeshivat Har Etzion, complete with a tour and lunch.  Following which, back on the bus for a quick drive to discuss Religion & Co-Existence with Noor Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger from Shorashim, a program which brings West Bank Palestianans and their Israeli neighbors together.  Then back to the hotel and a dinner dialogue with Gershom Gorenberg, Israeli hstorian, journalist, and blogger specializing in Middle Eastern Politic and the interaction of religion and politics.

I think I will try to sneak a nap on the bus.

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