Tuesday, February 9, 2016
This last trip to Israel was amazing. It was short, fast-moving, and full of energizing contacts as I visited some of the communities that CFOIC works with in Judea and Samaria. Each stop was a blessing, a testimony of the goodness of our donors and their love of Israel, and an expression of appreciation as Israelis told me, again and again, how much our work means to them. It truly was amazing and fulfilling, in many ways.
Granted, there were some obstacles in the trip, all of which were overcome. The weather was cold, windy and wet – very wet. But I learned a long time ago, that if you are fortunate enough to be in Israel when it is raining, you are witnessing and participating in a blessing. So, yes, I was blessed, even as the wind blew, and the snow fell, and meetings had to be cancelled or rearranged due to the weather.
There were other issues as well. I had foolishly lost my passport and the struggle of getting a new one is a story in and of itself, which I may share later. Let it suffice for now to say that if you are going to Israel, be sure, very sure, you have at least two copies of your passport with you and maybe even leave a copy with someone you trust that can fax or email it to you if such foolishness should happen to you!
Tragically, there were some terrorist attacks while I was there. It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Dafna Meir and Shlomit Krigman, two innocent Israeli women who were calmly and quietly going about living their lives in the land they loved; murdered for no reason other than being Jewish. Whether we are in Israel or in another part of the world, it is never easy to hear of such tragedy and yet, life goes on with the death of the innocent being commonplace in this upside down world.
There was the joy of a beautiful wedding as Rabbi David Baras (Sondra and Ed’s son) married the lovely Ellie Strauss. The wedding was one of laughter, joy, dancing and the exuberance of life as hundreds of family and friends celebrated the beginning of a new family with them. Truly, it was a night to remember.
Through all of this, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the beauty of Israel. We drove to the communities of Alon and Kfar Adumim, southeast of Jerusalem, toward the Jordan River and overlooking Jericho, where the Judean Mountains are always dry and brown. This time, due to the rains, they were green and full of life and beauty as were the people with whom we visited. We took the curvy switch-back road from Alon through the Samarian Mountains back to Karnei Shromron. With Sondra driving I had the opportunity to enjoy the fabulous scenery and to think about these tough, rugged, rocky mountains – not of Colorado, but of Israel. The scripture found in Luke 6 about the man who built his house on the solid rock and it withstood all that came against it, came to mind. Surely, Israel is a solid rock and she will stand against all that comes against her.
On the last day, we drove to Nazereth where we had the opportunity to visit with Father Gabriel Naddaf, whom I’ll write about later, but I wanted to tell you about the exquisite beauty of northern Israel. The colors in the fields, popping with every shade of green. The new roads and bridges, the growth of Israel in every direction –it is all so positive, so hopeful, so solid and fabulously beautiful. In the midst of tragedy, Israel lives. In the midst of hatred, Israel lives. Am Israel Chai!
So I am asking myself why I am writing this story now, today. It is because I want to encourage you – any of you reading this – go to Israel. Step outside of any fear or hesitation you might have and go to Israel. You will be safe. You will be intrigued; and, you will never be sorry you went. Now is the time to stand with Israel, to be on her side and to be a part of what God is doing in a tiny little land full of life, energy and His spirit.
Blessings and Shalom,
Chairman, Board of Directors
Christian Friends of Israel