Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Shavuot in Rehovot

I've been rather reticent lately due to the studies for Holy Apostles and the Servant School (deacon formation). However, things are beginning to lighten up. Naturally, when non-work matters lighten, work matters... (uh... what's a parallel adjective for this?) get heavier. I fly yet again to Tel Aviv to do a little training and a little pilgrim activity. I will be landing toward the end of Shavuot, one of the three major religious holidays, which just happens to correspond with our Pentecost.

One of the highlights of the trip will be a Shabbat prayer service and meal that I'll be sharing with a colleague and her family in Rehovot. I've heard that the structure of the Shabbat meal is very like the Liturgy of the Eucharist. While it makes sense that the Seder meal or other Pesach meals would be similar, it's less obvious that the Liturgy of the Eucharist would be, except that we celebrate it on the Lord's Day, and they celebrate the Shabbat meals on Shabbat or Sabbath. So I guess I'll get to see how the two traditions relate. I can't wait.

If you want to read more on Shabbat, see Judaism 101: Shabbat.

I suspect I'll be limited to the Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa) area on Saturday. While I can walk wherever I like and take a taxi, the buses don't run. I will most likely settle in to the hotel, take a run, and go to the vigil Mass at St. Peter's in Jaffa. See Acts 9 for the significance of this church. I would like to see some of the monuments for the War of Independence at Kastel and Latrun, but I haven't yet determined how to get to those locations without renting a car. If you take a bus to Jerusalem, you'll pass both on the way up Bab el Wad. So much history packed into such a small space.

In Sunday morning, I'll take a taxi to the central bus station in Tel Aviv-Yafo, then hop the 480 to Jerusalem. In the past, I've taken taxis to and from the Old City. A little work on Google Maps revealed to me that Jaffa Gate is only about two miles from the central bus depot in Jerusalem on almost a straight shot down some obscure lane called... Jaffa Road. Yes, I know, how would one see the connection? Anyway, I'm not blowing 40 NIS on a 5 minute cab ride again.

I've printed off a number of walking tours and plan to start with a little jaunt to Mea Sharim, an ultra-orthodox neighborhood just northwest of the Old City. Tour guides will warn you about dressing and acting appropriately for the destination. For holy sites, this means no shorts or tank style shirts. For Mea Sharim, it means that and head coverings for women, and no direct interactions with strangers of the opposite gender. And no cameras. And don't try to argue your way into a yeshiva. And don't go there on Shabbat, for Pete's sake. When I say ultra-orthodox, I put primary stress on the first two syllables.

I plan also to look at some of the archaeological parks in the Valley of Hinnom more closely (Hinnom--think Gehenna), and eventually I will make my way over to the Mount of Olives, where I will wait until the Garden Gethsemane is open (and I will not budge until it is). If I have time I will walk up to the Monestery of the Ascension and possibly to Bethphage. We'll see how the schedule shakes out. One a side note, the first time I was in the Old City, I saw Simcha Jacobovici talking with a group of Evangelicals encountering a couple of well-trained Catholics. The second time I was there on my own, wandering through the Valley of Kidron up to Mt. Zion, I saw one of the archaeologists commonly featured on Naked Archaeologist. Brushes with Bible Geek Fame!

Of course, it would be wrong to be in Jerusalem on Pentecost and not stop in at the Cenacle (the Upper Room), and I have another errand to run for someone. If you have a special prayer you'd like me to offer in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, please let me know.

Then it's work, work, work for the rest of the week (with a red-eye flight out after midnight on Friday AM). If I'm lucky, I'll wrap up on Wednesday and have a bit more time on Thursday to see the sights.

While Israel is fascinating in many ways, you would not expect to be captivated on your first visit to Tel Aviv-Jaffa. I will try to get more pictures to illustrate this point, but think of Tel Aviv as a fully modern city. As Jerusalem is to the Abrahamic religious world view, Tel Aviv could be to the secular world view.

More later. Please pray for me, and I'll pray for you.
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