2012 Day 7: Driving the Rift

We departed the Sea of Galilee on the fourth of July, and began a long day that would eventually end in our final destination: Jerusalem. On the way, we visited the ancient synagogue of Capernaum, which was once part of a Jewish community and the site of Jesus’ teachings.

This was followed by the Kinneret Cemetery, which is the resting home of several famous Israelis. Cemeteries in America are often rather grim, with dull gray tombstones lined up in order and little in the way of decorations. This cemetery was clearly intended to celebrate life by surrounding visitors with trees, flowers, and of course the Sea of Galilee that it is located by. Our tour guide Doron told us stories of some of the people buried there, including famous poets Noami Shemer and Rachel. At Rachel’s grave, a family was celebrating her life by playing some of her songs with a guitar and some recorders. As someone whose only exposure to recorders was squawking on them in 2nd grade, it was a surprise to hear such beautiful music coming from the instrument.

We left the cemetery and partnered up with some members of the Partnership Together community for a stop at the Jordan River Village, a camp dedicated to giving sick children the time of their lives. The Jordan River Village looks like what would happen if a young child was given a few million dollars and invited to go wild: It had a huge playground, arts and crafts, music, a zipline, and soon will have a gymnasium, swimming pool, and petting zoo with horseback riding. More importantly, it also had top notch medical care and was completely wheelchair accessible, guaranteeing that any children there could have the time of their lives. The camp serves all sick children equally, showing that even in a country with so much conflict, people can sometimes put their differences aside and do something universally considered good. That made the Village a powerful moment of the trip.

The Partnership Together members joined us for lunch at an organic restaurant on a Kibbutz, which served amazing kosher food. My sister, who is something of a foodie, declared it the best meal she’s ever eaten and eventually asked the chef for the recipe of a pasta dish they made. The restaurant also had delicious ice cream that was made with cactus milk, which we all enjoyed while secretly wondering how exactly someone milks a cactus. (I assume it’s like a cow, but more painful for the person doing the milking.)

Finally we were ready to approach the holy city of Jerusalem, and after a lengthy bus ride we stopped at a gorgeous overlook of the city with the Rabbi leading us in the Shehechiyanu prayer before entering. After years of saying “next year in Jerusalem,” maybe without really 100% meaning it, we had finally arrived.

– Josh

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