When you think about Jerusalem, many things come to mind. Today, we see a city that is prospering and building up. But what we forget is that Jerusalem was not always the city we know today. 160 years ago, only the Old City existed with the surrounding area barren and desolate. Recently, I was on a tour at Mishkenot Sha’ananim the first neighborhood that was built outside the safety of the Old City walls. However, this was not your typical tour; there was a twist. Our tour guide was not an ordinary tour guide, he was also an actor. Through acting he told us the stories of the neighborhood, the struggles the families went through, and how the families who lived there built the foundation of modern Jerusalem. It was inspiring to learn how courageous people were, willing to risk their lives to make a better life for themselves and their families
This week on Selah, we explored the inner dimension of Chanukah, through a discussion about miracles and where we may see them in our own lives, as well as an interesting teaching from the Hasidic tradition about the spiritual dimension and meaning behind some of the technical details of how we light Chanukah lights. David from the Temple Institute visited us (we couldn’t go to the museum because of Corona!) He told us about the importance of the Temple and about his organization, which built the Menorah in the square of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, ready to be used in the rebuilt Temple. He showed us slides of other implements that they have prepared for use in the Temple.
We also had a guest presenter on Thursday who took us to Park Canada for a day of group bonding activities and Chanukah teachings in light of the Macabees..
This week we visited Mount Herzl, where we were able to see the graves of some of the great minds that have shaped Israel and Zionism today. We listened to the stories and saw the names of deceased IDF soldiers. The biggest takeaway I had was that most of these soldiers did not die for honor or glory, but simply because they love their country and want to see a day where the violence stops. Mount Herzl is a reminder to us all that we need to strive for peace in the Middle East; that our brave soldiers did not die in vain.