Photo and blog post by Sue Lund
I made it to Israel! I’m still in disbelief- but here I am with 20 other amazing souls. We have really bonded on this trip whether it was joining the ICC- the Iced Coffee Club– soon to be renamed the ICCC club after some of us brave souls hop on a camel on the way to the Dead Sea tomorrow… or perhaps we really bonded when we all started dancing together on the streets- I mean- on the Sea of Galilee! Seriously! We did! Danced the night away… or maybe it was the Shak-Shuka which I still do not know how to spell – let alone pronounce. Nancy Crotti wants to try to make this at home– it’s just THAT good! Such good food in Israel!
So many reflections- so little time.
So let me leave you with one personal story from the trip.
Kinnert Cemetery/Cemetery of the Pioneers
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
It is our first stop of the day. Unplanned. Even before our beloved Iced Coffee. And this day we are primed for the best. Our tour guide Tziv says Cafe Aroma is the real deal. Best Iced Coffee in Israel.
All of a sudden- it seemed like mere moments after we had checked out of the Sea of Gailalee- on our way to Jerusalem!!– we are at Tziv’s favorite place in all of Israel- the Kinnert Cemetery otherwise known as the Cemetery of the Pioneers.
Debbie, my seat mate, roommate and BFF says to me- a cemetery. You love cemeteries!
Indeed- one of my dreams is to travel to world and take pictures of cemeteries. They tell us so much about the people in each region and their culture.
I had heard earlier on the bus about Maimonides and his grave. I asked our awesome Rabbi Spilker – is THIS where he was buried? Rabbi Spilker replies: no, but I promise you there will be a WOW moment.
Tzvi gives us an overview of the cemetery and then brings us to one special grave.
The first thing I see is one word on the upper right hand corner of the grave: Raquel in Hebrew. I immediately snap a photo. I am drawn to the one word. A name. Not like any other graves with that one name.
Tzvi tells us the story of this great woman — who died tragically young- but was an amazing poet and many of her writings were set to music- which he played for us.
Then Rabbi Spilker speaks. I happen, by chance, to be standing right beside him as he told us this story. Es is beshert. Meant to be.
This was my WOW moment, although I did not know it at the time.
Adam begins with a visual image of his own family– Rachel sitting at this bench right beside the gravesite when they had spent time together as a family many moons ago. Rachel and their 3 children- with our beloved Cantor Rachel Stock Spilker sitting there singing Raquel’s (Raquel the women in the grave) songs to her own children, Eiden, Mirit and Liam.
You see- there was also this box right next to the bench– all beside the gravesite– with books of Raquel’s poetry set to music.
What an incredible image of our Rachel singing Raquel’s poetry.
But if that wasn’t enough– which is what this trip is all about– SO MANY Wow! AHA moments packed into each day– Adam tells us that this box filled with Raquel’s books was the inspiration for our display at Mount Zion Temple of Ruth Firestone Brin, of blessed memory, display of her books- just like Raquel.
Tears poured from my eyes at this moment. You see- Ruth Brin- was my frontier lady and most important to me, my good friend.
I first met Ruth on 2004 when I asked her for an out of print copy of her book “Rag of Love.” I’ll never forget her reply: come to my apartment and I’ll give you a copy.
We become fast friends and enjoyed a monthly study group together with Susan Vass and Jonathan Eisenthal — along with many walks and talks.
Ruth was a prolific writer and used to say I was her biggest fan. I would come to many of her book readings. Ruth Brin’s prayers are an integral part of our liturgy today. Ruth, like Raquel was a Pioneer Woman.
Ruth was also a Zionist and would tell me and show me often her pictures of her trips to Israel with the love of her life, Howard Brin, of blessed memory. She loved Israel.
I know Ruth was smiling as you mentioned her name, Rabbi Spilker, and have provided a small sanctuary for us to read her writings, back at home (Our Mount Zion) as there is for Raquel- 2 pioneer women.
Ruth would be so pleased I made it to Israel! And so am I!! I am eternally grateful for this time. For this opportunity. For these amazing experiences. Here I Am! In Israel!
Thank you Rabbi Spilker for this once in a life time opportunity. And thank you for my trip mates for being SO AWEsome!!!! WhatsApp!!!!!
Have a great day!