Israel Study Tour with The Friends of Israel

October 16-26, 2015

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Tears, Tissues and Tunnels

I thought we had busy days in the past but nothing held a candle to today. As I write we are on our way to the Western Wall Tunnel. We started the day at 7:40 AM leaving the hotel for the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Security was relatively easy. (Probably because they did secret background checks on us - KIDDING!) The Knesset is not as large as I thought it would be but it is beautiful. We learned about the transparency of the Israeli government and the easy accessibility to the government officials. Anyone can register online and attend a committee meeting. Lots of windows in the Knesset symbolize transparency. Unfortunately that easy accessibility did not mean we were able to meet the Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu which was a tiny hope I had. He's currently in Germany meeting with Secretary John Kerry. Bummer.

After taking a group picture outside we headed to The Book of the Shrine where the Dead Sea Scrolls are held. There was a model of Jerusalem as it was about 30 years after Jesus ascended to heaven. It was neat to see what the land looked like compared to now. Inside the museum is where the Dead Sea Scrolls are held. I believe and know the inerrancy of Scripture but what a beautiful experience to see the entire book of Isaiah word for word in Hebrew that was found. God is truly awesome. A quote by Josephus, a Jewish historian struck me today at the museum,"For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another [as Greeks have,] but only twenty two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine. It has become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and if occasion presents itself, be willing to die for them" Against Apion 1, 7-8. This is the same for us as Christians also!

Next we were off to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum. Yad Vashem was founded after the founding of Israel as a state. As you walk in there is "The Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles." Those that helped the Jewish people, even with the risk of being killed. Carob trees are planted for each Gentile. Miriam, our guide always wondered why they chose that tree. But she found out that Carob's thrive in adversity. And how appropriate that as Gentiles, many being Christians, risked their lives for the Jewish people. And that Jesus promised us it was good to suffer for His name. Wow. That convicts me to the core. Walking through the museum you go on an emotional roller coaster, which is intentional. I'm thankful we had plenty of time to walk through. But I don't know if there will ever be enough time to give each of those lives a moment of remembrance they deserve.

We made a quick stop on our way to the Mount Herzl museum. We stopped at the Israeli Defense Force cemetery. There we learned about Michael Levine, a lone American soldier from Philadelphia, PA that was killed in 2006.

The Mount Herzl Museum was an interesting story about Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Judaism. He never got to see Israel as a state but he is the one who paved the way tirelessly.

We stopped back at the hotel for an hour for a quick dinner and then we were off again to the Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels. It was fascinating to see the stone and tunnels that were built 2,000 years ago. The Western Wall was not very busy and many were able to go down and pray. One woman on the tour has been to Israel multiple times and she was able to get to the wall for the first time ever. There was a lot of police presence, which was great to see.

We were back to our hotel around 10:15 and I don't think anyone will have difficulty sleeping!

Caves, Masada, and the Dead Sea is on the agenda for tomorrow (probably today by the time you read this!)

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