When you read this, we will have been visiting Israel for ten days. However, I wrote this story a week before our departure. Our trip was prompted by a family reunion. When we went to the Israeli consulate in San Francisco to renew our passports, we realized that our last trip to Israel was over ten years ago. We lived in Israel from January 1972 until August 1980, when we moved to San Francisco. In the years when my parents and sister, who were living in Israel, were alive, we visited often. However after they passed on, we started to travel to different destinations. Our last trip to Israel was with an organized group called, “In the Dust of Our Ancestors”. We visited many old places, like the cave where Samson (who according to the Bible lived in 1118-1078 BC) was hiding.
The question in the title of this story can be interpreted as a place on the world map or in world affairs. When you look on the map showing Israel and its bordering countries, you can see how small it really is. Nevertheless, it plays a very important role as the only democratic country in the area, which keeps the balance in the volatile world. Surrounded by enemies, who would rather see it be destroyed and Israelies pushed into the sea, the only Jewish state in the world, with a population of over 8.5 million, opposite to 17 Arab countries with a population of about 330 million. It is definitely a miracle how this tiny country was able to not only survive; but also to prosper and become an economic and technological driving force in the world. And this is despite the local conflicts with the Palestinians who claim that the whole land of Israel belongs to the Arabs, with Jerusalem as their capital, and the Jews have no claims to it.
Jerusalem has a very rich history. It was settled in the 4th millennium BCE making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Online I read that it was attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. On Wikipedia I read a fascinating history of Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. I also learned on Wikipedia that “On November 8th, 1995, the 104th Congress enacted The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 as public law. The Act recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and called for Jerusalem to remain an individual city. Despite passage, the law allowed President to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law. The waiver was repeatedly renewed by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. President Donald Trump finally signed a waiver. The United States Embassy officially relocated to Jerusalem on May 14th, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.” In the next few weeks I will share with you more stories from our trip.
P.S. These four images from Jerusalem, which is considered holy by the three major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam, were taken in 2007. You can see the representation of all three religions. I also included a photo of a dog with the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa mosque in the background. This is to remind you that while I am travelling, you can buy 42 Encounters with Dog Lovers on Amazon or EncountersPublishing.com.
P.P.S. In light of what happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I’d like to quote what President George Washington wrote to one of the first US synagogues – the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island – in 1790:
“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants: while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths”
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