Servas Israel Tour – continued – Dinner with Servas Members and a Day in Jerusalem
On Friday, we met for dinner with our tour members and Servas Israeli hosts to mingle and share information about our countries.
On the way, we saw old armored vehicles along the road – preserved to remember the many who fought and died so that Jewish people could have a country.
According to “The Convoy Skeletons” by Gil Gertel & Noam Even,“[T]he vehicles that brought food, water and arms from Tel Aviv to besieged Jerusalem in early 1948. . . were extremely vulnerable. Piles of stones were placed along the width of the road forcing the drivers to halt. Then snipers hidden between the rocks in the hills near the road, would open fire on the riders and vehicles.
Most of the trucks belonged to various kibbutz cooperative transport companies. Many of the drivers volunteered; the return trip was also via convoy. . . .
LESSER KNOWN FACTS
* During the battle for the road to Jerusalem, 230 convoys set out to bring supplies to the besieged city. . .
* Over 3100 trucks made their way to Jerusalem carrying 10,500 tons of supplies. . . .
* In February 1948 – 1299 trucks made the uphill trip to Jerusalem, in 81 convoys.
The armored vehicles symbolize the courage of those who guarded the convoys and who sacrificed their lives to bring supplies to the besieged city of Jerusalem. In the battles on the road to Jerusalem, more than 400 fighters were killed,
Our Servas Israel hosts served great Middle Eastern food including hummus, wonderful olives, breads, . . .
My favorite presentation was the one from Russia (and you will understand why). The Russian women showed crafts and gave a slide show about beautiful Lake Baikal, located in the south of Siberia. We learned that Lake Baikal, which is about 25 million years old, is the largest (by volume) freshwater lake in the world; it contains about 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water and at 1,642 m (5,387 ft), the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes. It contains more water than all the U.S. Great Lakes combined!
Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two-thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world. In 1996, Lake Baikal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temperatures are cool: a winter minimum of −19 °C (−2 °F) to a summer maximum of 14 °C (57 °F). Lake Baikal is very beautiful and a wonderful place to visit.
Then the Russians ladies gave us typical Russian treats to eat and Lake Baikal water to drink. When the bottle came around, I poured a cup for Manda and another for me. I took a big gulp —- then I realized it wasn’t clear, cold Lake Baikal water, but another liquid for which Russia is famous: vodka!
For Manda, it was the first time she’d had alcohol in 20 years! But no harm was done – and we all got plenty of laughs out of the presentation. We could see that Russians are fun-loving people. Beware, however, when a Russian offers you “water”!
Besides getting to know Servas members and learn about other countries, we also heard from Franco Collodet, an Italian sociologist and philosophy professor from the Institute Volterra-Elia of Ancona.
In several earlier pilgrimages, Franco Collodet has walked the roads of Europe — to Rome, Lourdes, Fatima, and Santiago de Compostela — tracing the ancient routes that arrive in major places of worship. Collodet says he is inspired by integration among peoples.
In his latest pilgrimage, Collodet walked 4,100 kilometers (2,547.62 miles) from the Cathedral of Ancona in Italy to Jerusalem, arriving on Christmas 2014! He shared highlights of his “Send Your Prayer to Jerusalem” experience.
Servas hosts and tour members had a wonderful evening together.
Our following day tour was Christmas in Jerusalem.
At 10:00 a.m., we met at Jaffa Gate of the Old City and viewed the walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem – a city of many faiths.
We walked to the Christian Quarter and saw the Franciscan Church of ST. SAVIOUR- St Salvador, a beautiful Italian style church decorated for Christmas.
The Crypt of the Basilica marks the place where after the Resurrection of Jesus, Mary lived and died.
At the heart of the Christian quarter, The Church of the Holy Sepulcher honors the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and arose. The Stations of the Cross end here.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is controlled by – the Greek Orthodox, who own its central worship space, the Catholics, and the Armenian Orthodox. The three groups have yet to agree on how to restore the crypt area damaged by fire.
We also visited the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.
We walked then through the Jewish Quarter of narrow alleys to visit at the Wailing Wall and then climbed up to Mt. Zion.
The Muslim shrine located on the Temple Mount within the Old City Walls of Jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock, is considered by some the “most recognized of Jerusalem’s landmarks.” It was first completed in 691 CE.
The site’s great religious significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims stems from religious traditions regarding the rock, the Foundation Stone, at the heart of The Dome of the Rock.
Although the Israelis captured the Dome of the Rock in 1967 during the Six-Day War, the country gave the Muslims authority to manage the Temple Mount to “keep the peace.”
In 1993, King Hussein of Jordan donated $8.2 million to refurbish the dome with 80 kilograms of gold! No wonder it glows in the sun.
Then we walked on to visit The Last Supper Room.
And we saw Dormition Abbey – a golden, highly decorated church that contains the tomb of the Virgin Mary.
We walked again along the walls of Old City Jerusalem back to the Jaffa Gate – to end another wonderful day full of history and religion and new friends.
Aloha & Shalom,