“…having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.”–Hebrews 11:13
It is Friday and I took a morning walk before everyone else got up. It was a wonderful, crisp, windy morning and a perfect time to walk to Abraham’s Overlook to pray.
Today, Scott & Theresa decided to attend a memorial service for a soldier who had died in the war with Lebanon two years ago this week. The soldier was a young sergeant and had two very young children when he died. His platoon had been on night patrol across the Lebanese border when they ran across another group of Israeli soldiers on patrol. As the two groups were standing in a circle talking, a Lebanese soldier who had been hiding behind a bush, pulled the pin on his grenade and tossed it into the circle of Israelis. Without a moment’s hesitation, the sergeant threw himself on the grenade and was blown to pieces, saving the lives of the rest of the men.
Whenever a soldier dies in Israel, fellow soldiers and ordinary citizens hold a commemoration service on the year’s anniversary of the death. This soldier’s death was so unusual, his comrades and about 150 others held a commemoration today on the second anniversary.
The ceremony was very moving. Lots of soldiers in their various uniforms (and guns) attended and spoke of their friend. Several had been in the circle, so their lives had been spared by this man’s action. We walked around the cemetery, with all it’s beautiful landscaping, and looked at several of the graves. Everyone in Israel is buried above ground. I don’t know the reason.
As you probably know, Jerusalem is surrounded by hills. One of these hills has been named Mount Herzl, after the founder of modern Zionism. Mt. Herzl is made up of three ridges, each one higher than the next. On the lowest ridge is the Holocaust Memorial. On the next ridge is the cemetery for those who died in the War of Independence in 1948. On the highest ridge is the Israeli National Cemetery for soldiers who have died in battle since the War of Independence. This cemetery is huge and is where the soldier is buried whose ceremony we attended.
Now, it’s getting on toward evening and Theresa and a friend are downstairs preparing the Shabbat meal. It smells yum…
One of the Lone Soldiers from Russia eats Sabbath dinner here often. His mother is visiting him from Moscow and she speaks only Russian. When it came time to light the Sabbath candles before supper, the mother was asked if she would like to do the honors. She was led through the ritual by another young Lone Soldier, an Israeli girl named Natalie, and it really touched the mother to do this. Having been raised in Communist USSR, she had never lit Sabbath candles before in her life.
Tomorrow is Saturday when we do little but read, sit, talk and nap. I wish everyone here played games. That would be fun. Tomorrow night until Sunday night is “Tish B’Av” (9th day of the month of Av) in which observant Jews all over the world fast and mourn for 25 hours. It marks the day when both the first and second Temples were destroyed 656 years apart but on exactly the same day. Either that is an amazing coincidence, or God was really making a point!
Just checked my email and received this quick note from Blake. I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing it. Here is what he said just after he arrived in Nashville to his new job as Producer’s Assistant for a film being made there: I have to rush, I have hardly any time, but I wanted to let you know I’m here and this is EXACTLY where I”m suppose to be. I don’t think I’ll be leaving for a long time. This place is AMAZING.