I am helping to lead a 10-day Jewish-Christian study trip to Israel. We left the U.S. Sunday. My plan is to post entries about our trip here as I have the opportunity, but that may not be possible daily.
Even on days when I'm unable to post, however, I'll be giving you some links to learn about the places in Israel that are on our itinerary.
Today we are scheduled to leave Tel Aviv and drive north to Caesarea, where we view the Roman ruins, including the Roman Theater and Aqueduct. We are to continue to Megiddo, site of the Biblical Armageddon. Then we visit Nazareth, where we see the Basilica and St. Joseph's House. Next we stop in Cana, site of the first miracle attributed to Jesus. Finally, we arrive at our kibbutz in the Galilee, then visit the Ancient Boat Museum.
* * *
NEWARK, N.J.-- We gathered in a loosely formed cirlce -- the 19 of us making this journey to Israel -- here at the Newark airport before our scheduled 10:50 p.m. flight to Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn gave us a brief description of what we'd do after we landed late the next afternoon and then, following a Jewish custom, gave each of us a dollar.
The tradition, he said, is that you give travelers to Israel a dollar that they use for charitable purposes once in the country. That, in turn, is to ensure safe travel and a good trip.
I was already carrying such a dollar given to me by another Kansas City rabbi, Mark Levin, along with his good wishes.
Jacques then offered a brief Jewish prayer -- both in Hebrew and English -- that was a blessing for travel.
Then we waited. And waited. And waited.
Some kind of water pipe equipment on our United 777 jumbo jet had broken.
Our 10:50 p.m departure became a 1:50 a.m. lift-off, meaning we arrived in Tel Aviv nearly at 7 p.m., almost three hours behind schedule.
But we were both safe and blessed and ready to experience Israel as a group of both Jews and Christians together, returning to the land that both our faiths, along with Islam, consider holy and historic.
* * *
I have written a series of poems from airplanes over the years. Here's one I wrote on this trip:
The electronic screen
on the seat in front of me, 22-L,
tells me the lushness,
the richness, the Rome-ness
of Italy is below this
777 jumbo jet.
But all the wondowshades are closed
for this overnight flight
and I'm up here imagining,
just imagining it all.
Sometimes the pictures are better
in my head, but I'm ready
to land in Israel
and have its onioned reality
open up peel by peel
before my watering eyes.