Monthly Archives: September 2006

Day trip with Danny

Awoke at 3AM to the sound of the wind roaring up the valley from below Yossi’s house over the top of the hill on which Ma’ale Levona sits. The seasons have definitely changed. I tried to go back to sleep but the wind was whistling through the trees so loudly it reminded me of a stormy night at the beach. No sleep. The wind didn’t die down until 10AM.

Here is a picture of my two young Hebrew teachers,  Yossi’s daughters, Dagan & Tamar. Tamar is the one who said, “Lo, lo, meats!” (see a previous entry).

For years Danny has been trying to get me to take my groups to a place in the north and I have not been interested. I never thought it was a historical enough place, so I just said, “no”. Finally, Wednesday, he prevailed on me to take a break from working with him and with Yossi and go north to the border with Lebanon.

First, we drove due south to Jerusalem where Danny had some business and where we ate breakfast. Then we drove west toward the coast. There are 3 highways that run north-south in Israel: one in the east, up the Jordan River Valley; one on the west near the coast; and one in the country’s center. The last one is not often taken because most of the Arab population lives on this road.

Anyway, Danny and I drove west from Jerusalem until we connected up with the new and very nice (and not yet finished) toll road that runs north until it ends about 2/3 of the way up the country. Then we worked our way west to  along the Valley of Jezreel (also known as the Valley of Armageddon), until the road ended at Mount Carmel. I looked, but Elijah was nowhere to be seen. (Doesn’t the Valley of Armageddon look peaceful–for now?).

Then we turned north again, and drove just inland from the coast until we reached our destination. Rosh Ha-Nikra is the extreme northwestern spot of land in Israel. From the top of the cliff I took this picture, looking south, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Then we took one of the world’s steepest, and shortest, cable cars down to sea level.

At sea level we saw a movie about the history of the place (seems as if Abraham came this way), and entered some of the caverns hollowed out by the action of the waves against the soft rock. Here are some nice picture of the caverns: [1] [2] [3] [4].

After we left the caves, I took a couple of pictures while standing next to the border with Lebanon: [1] [2].

We finally turned toward home and Danny decided to take me to the Old City of Acre which is now the Jewish city of Akko. Napoleon tried very hard to conquer this city and failed. If you ever saw the movie “Exodus” there is a long scene where some Jewish freedom fighters are jailed by the British and Paul Newman and a bunch of Jews bomb a hole in the prison wall and allow the prisoners to escape. The scene in the movie is fairly accurate and this is the prison where it all took place.

After seeing all this, I decided it would be a good idea to bring groups to this area, so we scouted for a place for everyone to spend the night near the seashore. After being less than impressed with several places, we finally came upon a school that trains young Israelis to run the national parks. It has a place to set up tents and sleep outdoors as well as a large bonfire ring and some bar-b-que pits. It also has dorm rooms and a cafeteria. And it is across the road from the ocean. Just right! This picture is taken from the school, and here is a picture of me standing in the Sea across the road from the school.

Drove home after sunset and we were both really tired.

By the way, I haven’t heard from anyone lately. Am I boring you to death so you’re not reading this any more, or you just haven’t got anything to say. I need some home-grown news, folks!

Monday is the Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the most holy day of the year. I only have about 3 weeks left here and the main holiday season begins next week (and lasts for a week) when neither Danny or Yossi will want to do any work. So, that means I only have a few days left to work with them. My final week here, both Danny and Yossi have a tour (which I’ve been invited to join) and this means they won’t be able to work with me then, either.  

I just had to take this picture for you, Blake.

Our Jewish question of the day: On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the most holy day of the Jewish calendar, Jews all over the world read the Book of Jonah. Of all the books of the Bible they could read, why the Book of Jonah? It only has 4 chapters. Read it yourself and then tell my what you think is the answer.

The Ramparts

Saturday morning I was finally able to get a really hazy picture from my balcony of the Mountains of Moab, on the other side of the Dead Sea, in Jordan. You can see them if you look hard.

Saturday was the Jewish New Year and I decided to take a walk in the Old City. I knew nothing Jewish would be open, but that didn’t matter. All the Arab sections would be open and I would just wander around for a few hours.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do was walk the Ramparts, this means walking around the city of Jerusalem from on top of its walls. I have heard others tell of this experience and how different it is to see the city from the Ramparts, but I’ve never been able to get up there. I guess I’ve tried dozens of times, but the gate to the Ramparts has always been locked.

Well, I assumed the gate would be locked on the Jewish New Year, but decided to take a look, anyway. Lo, and behold, the gate was open! So, I was able to walk the Ramparts of the City and look into the City from its walls.

This was a different perspective than I’d ever seen. From the Ramparts, you look out over all the rooftops of Jerusalem. This picture reminds me of the movie, Mary Poppins, and the song about being on “the rooftops of London.” Notice the Golden Dome peaking out from underneath on the very left.

As I walked the walls, I could take pictures of the Garden of Gethsemane, which is the little patch of green to the left of the church with the painted front, also the Mount of Olives with its thousands of graves, on the same hillside as Gethsemane. I saw these cute kids on their balcony, standing behind the laundry and just had to take their picture. Also, from the walls you can see Golgotha and the Garden Tomb (sorry, no picture).

It was a neat experience and I was reminded of the scripture in which God says, “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem.”

Left the wall and found myself on the Via Delorosa (way of the cross) where I entered the area where the pool of Bethsaida was located (remember Jesus healing the paralyzed man who couldn’t get into the water in time to be healed?). This was the pool.

Then I went to the Western Wall again and, as I left, took this picture which I thought was pretty.

The sun was setting and it was getting chilly, so I took a taxi to the other side of the valley where my apartment is located. Tomorrow night, as soon as the buses are running again, I will travel back to Ma’ale Levona to help Danny and Yossi.

My last month begins…

Note to the Newbolds: Yossi said he will be able to supply us with wine from the grapes we planted last year. Can’t wait!

Lo, lo. “Meats”

Yossi’s two young daughters have been trying to teach me some Hebrew. Whenever I come to their house, they hold up different items (fork: maz-leg; knife: suck-een; spoon: ka-peet; lo: no; yes: ken; etc.) and ask what it is in Hebrew. Sometimes I remember, sometimes I don’t. They have also been trying to teach me some things about Jewish lifestyle like which sink is used for meat and which is used for dairy.

If you have ever seen the kitchen of a religious Jew, you know that it is unique: For instance, it has two sinks. Sometimes that means one sink with two sides (like a modern American sink); sometimes it means two sinks in different parts of the countertop, each one complete with its own plumbing.

The stove has four burners: two for cooking meat and two for cooking anything containing dairy products. The refrigerator also has a couple of shelves set aside for dairy (milk, cheese, etc.) and shelves set aside for meat products.

All this has to do with the prohibition in the Law that states, “Do not cook a calf in its mother’s milk.”

So important is it that these two substances never mix, if you put milk on the top shelf of the refrigerator and it spills down upon the Sabbath meal you have cooked and stored on the refrigerator’s lower shelf, you have to throw away the entire Sabbath meal.

If I haven’t bored you up to this point, stick with me because there’s a reason I’m setting up the story I’m about to tell you…

The other evening I decided to wash the dishes after the evening meal. Everything we had eaten was “dairy” (no meat products), so I knew which of the two sinks to use to wash the dishes.

Most Jews do not fill their sink with water and add soap. They use a metallic-coated sponge to wash while the water is running. So, I took the soap from under the sink and added some to the sponge. The soap was a lot like what we use in the States, with a nice, lemon fragrance. 

As I was washing the dishes, I noticed that Israeli soap has very low suds. In fact, almost no suds at all. There wasn’t enough on my sponge to effectively wash, so I took the container and added more to my sponge. After a few minutes I noticed that my sponge still wasn’t giving me many suds, so I added more soap.

Just then, Tamar (Yossi’s 11 year old daughter) walked into the kitchen. She looked at me and scrunched up her face and said in her broken English,

“What are you doing?’

“I’m washing the dishes,” I answered.

“Lo, lo (no, no),” said Tamar. “Meats.”

I thought, “Tamar knows which sink is supposed to be used for washing dairy dishes,” so I said,

“Lo, lo, Tamar. The ‘meat’ sink is over there.” (and I pointed to the other counter and the other sink).

Tamar became insistent, “LO, LO,” she said, sternly, “MEATS!”

“Not ‘meats’, Tamar,” I assured her, “Dairy sink.” And I pointed to the dishes in the sink.

Tamar rolled here eyes and sighed as only an 11 year old girl can. She reached over to the counter and grabbed a plastic container which had some blue liquid in it. She shoved it in my face and said, in perfect English,

“THIS is soap. THAT is MEATS!!!” and she pointed to the soap container I was holding in my hand.

I looked at my soap and back at Tamar. She shrugged her shoulders and continued to stare at me.

Suddenly my Hebrew came back to me: “Meats”, in Hebrew, means “Juice”.

My heart sank. I looked back at Tamar and held up the ‘soap’ container. I said lamely, “Juice? This is juice?”

And, then, Tamar began laughing uncontrollably. And, for the next half hour she laughed. And, all that evening, she would think of me washing dishes with the family’s concentrated lemonade and begin laughing all over again. Then, whenever she saw someone, she had to tell them what I had done.

I will never again drink lemonade without thinking of “meats”.  And Tamar.

Meats: juice.

ken, ken…

My New Year’s Gift to You

The days are cooling off and the skies are beginning to have huge, puffy clouds, portending the coming of the rainy season in about a month. Evenings are breezy and I almost need a light jacket at night.

All day people have been in a festive mood since this evening begins Rosh HaShanna–the Jewish New Year. People are exchanging gifts and calling those they know to wish them “Happy New Year”. Flowers are on the table and special desserts have been prepared. We are having a large group for dinner.

From the balcony we can hear shofars being blown even though Sunday is the only day of the year when it is required by Jewish law to blow the shofar.

As I type this, guests are beginning to arrive, so I will send you my New Year’s gift: some off-beat humor to lighten your day.

Happy New Year from Israel!

Have a little chuckle with the following:

If you need a little more “body” in your salads, try this brand

When the arrest was made, everyone was shocked

You may want to slow down and read this one carefully

I finally got it working, so please

He had a short career as an English teacher

And then, got a job with the city

UPS drivers are on a pretty tight schedule

FedEx is more laid back

This wins my vote for most clever outdoor ad

Just an article…

One of the Jews’ favorite sayings goes something like this:

“If you visit Israel for a week, by the time you go home you will understand enough to write a book. If you visit Israel for a month, by the time you go home you will understand enough to write an article. If you visit Israel for a year, by the time you go home you will understand so little you won’t be able to say anything.”

I have been in Israel several times–this time for two months–and I believe the saying is true. The longer I’m here, the less it seems I understand about the Jews and the way they think and act. But, I am learning. I do ask a lot of questions, and everyone is eager to help me. It’s just that everyone has a different answer–or should I say, opinion. Just a couple of weeks ago, an elderly orthodox woman took a book off her shelf and placed in on the table in front of me. “Here, read this. Then you will understand.” The book is titled, This is My God, by Herman Wouk, author of The Winds of War, Youngblood Hawke, Marjorie Morningstar, and The Caine Mutiny. The lady was right–partly. 

During my last talk with Yossi, I tried to make him understand why it would help his readers to have the different stories in his book arranged in chronological order.

I said, “Yossi, when an American reads something historical, he expects it to be arranged in some kind of logical (preferably chronological) order. All his years in schooling have prepared him to view historical things historically. If your book  contains  stories,  and those stories are about real history, and they are placed in your book in random order, that will be a stumbling block to the reader.”

Yossi looked at me as if I had spoken to him in Chinese. I could tell he was thinking hard what to say. He was actually considering how to make me understand something he wasn’t sure an American, non-Jew could understand.

Finally he smiled at me with one of those “You may never understand” looks. “Yes, this is true. When a non-Jew reads the Bible, he reads it like a history book. That is because it is stories about someone else. It is not close to him.  When a Jew–especially one who has been raised in Israel–reads the Bible, he is reading about his family and his neighbors. Chronology is irrelevent to him.”

For several days I have thought about Yossi’s response and I think I have come up with an analogy that gave me the insight I needed:

I have a relative who has spent a lifetime doing detailed geneological work on our family. One Christmas, she presented everyone in the family with a portfolio of her work. It was full of names and dates and how this person was related to that person. Except for the latest entries, I didn’t know any of them. I have also known other families in which a relative bound all their geneology into a book. But, the best kind of geneological work includes more than names and dates of births, marriages & deaths. The best ones include stories of the individuals so that following generations might know their ancestors as people.

This is what Yossi reads when he reads the Bible: A compilation of those same kinds of geneological records of his family members and their stories. Further, since he has always lived in Israel (where all these stories took place), he really means it when he says he is reading about his family and his neighbors.

When Yossi said, “When an American reads the Bible, it is not close to him,” and when he said, “People in the Bible are my neighbors,” he meant…

“My uncle, David, used to be mayor of Hebron until the people voted him the leader of the whole country. Then he moved to Jerusalem and made it the country’s capitol. And, in that valley down there, below my house, is where we all get together three times a year for a family reunion to worship God and have a big picnic. One of my young cousins lives in the village and is being raised by the priest. Samuel is a differend kind of little boy; he has an unusual connection with God. But I like him. The Old Man (Abraham) still lives in Beersheba. He doesn’t get up here any more and we don’t go to see him very often. But, three times a day, I invoke his name in prayer, so I feel really close to him. I almost feel as if I could ask him a quesiton and he would answer me.”

So, why should chronology mean anything to an Israeli Jew? “These are just stories of our family. Who cares when they happened?”

Herman Wouk makes the following comment about his relatives (Jews living in Israel):

“They are very warm people. Our old tradition is true: The nation is a family. All its disagreements have the sharp note of family quarrels. All its rejoicings are like a wedding or a birthday. The people cannot be induced to take the government quite as seriously as people do everywhere else in the world. After all, it is only Uncle David or Cousin Moshe making the speech. This must drive Israeli officialdom rather wild at times. But it has its points. When the family is threatened, it fights like a band of blood brothers.”

This people have tremendous energy and a tenacious intention to keep their land. After all, nearly every tree and bush is irrigated with the blood of a family member. They are  kind and hospitable; but bump the glass, and their anger spills over. Why are they so angry? Think about their history. Don’t push them around. They are cynical of everything and everybody. They don’t trust anyone: not the government, not nations who declare their friendship, not one another; and for many, not even God. Until they are in danger. Then they close ranks. And, then they expect God to fight on their side, which He doesn’t always do.

Throughout their very long history, Jews have alternatively believed in the One, true God; they have believed in no god at all; or they have believed in other religions altogether. And, depending on the historical period or the group, they have believed (or not) in different combinations of all three. None of this ever changed their identity as Jews, however. Even “religious” Jews today can believe in mysticism or reincarnation or lots of other things and not lose their identity as Jews. A Jew can be an athiest and still be a Jew.

Can this be confusing? Only if you think of Judaism as a religion. Judaism is actually not a religion but is really more of an ethnic group; or, as Jews would say, “We were chosen by God to be a People. God deals with us depending upon how we behave as His people.”

A Jew believes that God planted Jewishness into their DNA. If a Jew decides to not be a Jew anymore, he is still considered a Jew because he may eventually come back to his Jewishness at some point in his life. That’s why a Jew can change religions and still be Jewish. If, on the other hand, his family believes he has gone too far, the family will consider him dead, and may even have a full-fledged burial.

Speaking of being chosen, only 40% of Jews in Israel even believe this. To the rest, the notion of being “chosen” is stupid.

What is the Jews’ attitude toward Christians? They especially don’t trust Christians, which makes me guilty by association. “What are you doing in my country?” they will ask me when they feel free enough to ask, or when they have had several drinks. Most don’t even care if the question is offensive or not. “You have come to help us? What could you possibly do that would benefit us!”

Actually,  I don’t blame them. Throughout their history, the Church has alternately left them alone (allowing them to exist) or stood silently by while they were being killed by the millions. Often, the Church has been the one doing the dirty work. Why shouldn’t Jews be wary? Why should they be gracious at all to anyone? Why should they not feel it best to keep everyone else at a safe distance? Who knows when their “friends” will again become their enemies?

What makes a visitor crazy is the clashing of conflicting viewpoints, all of which are expressed loudly and often. These people are passionately religious or passionately non-religious. What they have in common is that they are passionate. The religious have deep convictions that the Land is theirs by right of promise (God’s promise). The non-religious don’t believe in the Promise, but they use the  argument to their benefit, anyway.

The non-religious don’t want a religious country: all this “religion stuff” makes us look silly to other nations and is an embarrassment to us. It keeps us from being taken seriously and allowed to take our place among the great nations of the world, as is our right. If we could just convince all our citizens that we need to be a secular country, then they can believe whatever they want, as long as they keep it to themselves and don’t bother others with their religion.

But, the passionate beliefs of the “religious” do press into every area of life. This is why buses don’t run after sundown on Friday and why most businesses are closed on Saturday. This is why McDonald’s has both  regular, and kosher, restaurants. This is why some close friends won’t come into your house or invite you into theirs.

In the central Jerusalem Market, a tall, heavyset man is dressed in an old-fashioned black hat (his uniform requires that his hat be too small for his head) and a long, black coat that almost touches the ground. He has a long beard and long sidecurls. He is followed by about 10 young disciples who are all much shorter than he. The man walks slowly down  each aisle of the Market. It is late afternoon on Friday and the Market is packed with people, pushing, shoving, sweating and yelling. If you look carefully, some are on cell phones, calling their spouse in a different part of the Market:

“Honey, was I supposed to get the fish, or were you? Did you remember the spices?”

Sabbath will begin in a few hours and the big man wants the shops to close so people can get home to prepare the Sabbath meal. Never mind that many shoppers are non-religious and don’t celebrate the Sabbath. But, the big man has a self-appointed job to do: make sure everyone has plenty of time to get ready for Sabbath.

I watch the man pick a stall, seemingly at random, and stop in front of it. The stall owner is frantically making last-minute sales to the people pressing against one another, trying to be the next one served.

The man takes from his sleeve the smallest trumpet I’ve ever seen. This guy is such a big man, the trumpet looks like it came from a Cracker Jacks box. He presses the tiny trumpet to his lips and blows as hard as he can in the direction of the booth owner who is trying to ignore him and pay attention to his customers. Toot-toot. The trumpet makes a little, high pitched squeal (when I first heard it I laughed out loud). The merchant rolls his eyes.

The trumpet-man begins to shout at the merchant and wave his hands in gestures which punctuate his demands. As his voice gets higher and higher, his face turns redder and redder. His disciples are watching him and I wonder what they are thinking. I know what I am thinking. The merchant scouls and points to all the customers waiting impatienty to be helped. The big man and the merchant shout at one another for about 30 seconds. Then, suddenly, the man turns and moves on down the aisle, trailed by his little flock. I watch him pick another merchant, seemingly at random, and repeat the process again–and  again.

Yesterday I went to the Market to take a picture of this colorful character and guess what? He didn’t show up. I was really bummed because I wanted to show you what he looked like. Maybe next week.

I will be spending this Sunday through Friday morning in Ma’ale Levona writing with Yossi. Friday night is the Jewish New Year’s Eve and the New Year celebration doesn’t end until Sunday night. I won’t take the time to explain why 2 days although I thought it was an interesting story. 

Keep those comments and emails coming. I leave Israel for Tennessee 5 weeks from today!

Chris’ new groove

Thanks to all for your emails with personal news. I miss everyone and look forward to hearing how each of you is doing.

I spent most of the week in Ma’ale Levona alternately working with Danny on the website and with Yossi on his book. The website is coming along OK, but Danny and I know just enough html code to be dangerous.

Yossi and I have finally fallen into a groove of writing chapters for his 2nd book. Too bad we weren’t in this place weeks ago since I only have 5 weeks left in the country. Anyway, Yossi dictates and then I complain:

Me: “You can’t say it that way.”

Yossi: “Why not? That’s exactly how I want to express myself.”

Me: “But, Yossi, you are using a word that doesn’t exist in English!”

Yossi: “What’s wrong with saying, ‘The whole landscape is a dessertish yellow’?”

Me: “Because ‘dessertish’ is not a word.”

Yossi: “OK, so we’ll make it a word.”

I strain my brain, looking for a worthy synonym. For some reason, all my vocabulary has gone south and I can’t think of a single word to replace “dessertish”.

So, I say, “Yossi, you have asked for my help. English is not your first language. I have to tell you when you say something that no one would ever read in the English-language. Having said this, it’s your book. If you want to say “desertish” then “desertish” it is.

Yossi: “OK. I understand; but I still want to say ‘desertish’.”

So I type “desertish yellow” and the word is underlined in red by the spell checker. And, we move on.

Before I left Ma’ale Levona last night Judy Kransdorf gave me a thesaurus. Now, when I return to help Yossi, I’ll have some help with my vocabulary 

The real problem is that Hebrew, like Greek, is a “picture language”. Every Hebrew word paints a picture that the speaker or listener “sees” when the language is spoken. English is not a picture language (poetry is our best attempt) and this difference is almost impossible to explain to someone whose main language is spoken in pictures. That is why Yossi needs to make up words so the reader can see or smell what he means and it has been difficult for me to explain that some expressions simply don’t translate.

Last night, Scott and Theresa (remember that I am staying in their apartment in Jerusalem) came to Ma’ale Levona to join lots of the residents of the yishuv (settlement) for Yitzchak and Aviva Ernst’s daughter’s Bat Mitzva. I won’t take the time to explain what that is if you don’t know. It was held in the yishuv’s community room. Haya Mushka is the girl’s name and she just turned 12. Boys have a Bar Mitzva at age 13. Girls must mature earlier, or something like that.

Left Ma’ale Levone late with Scott and Theresa to drive back to Jerusalem. Because of the short time I have left, Yossi is really geared up to spend as much time as possible in the writing process. On the 5th of October the Feast of Tabernacles begins and just about everyone will be preoccupied. It is the major feast of the year and lasts a week. The following week both Danny and Yossi will be busy with a tour group. That is also my last week in Israel and I have been invited by Danny and Yossi to join the tour. I’m not sure I want to spend the money, but we’ll see.

Yesterday the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was the kind of day people who sail pray for: A warm sun along with a cool, strong breeze blowing in from the Sea. I could see myself in Blake’s little sailboat, sailing on the Sea of Galilee. The evenings are cooling down a lot now. The days are still pretty warm, but you can feel fall in the air.

Took this picture from Ma’ale Levona. I am facing due west toward the Mediterranean Sea which can be seen from where I am standing on clear, winter days. Looks sort of like east Tennessee except there are no trees to speak of on the hills. There has been no topsoil on these hills for about a thousand years and it will take generations to reforest the land. This is the same view at sunset. The sun looks weird because the wind whips up the dust that is free to rise without the presence of topsoil to hold it to the ground.

A lady from Holland has joined us in the apartment for the next two weeks. She is here to help Theresa sew costumes for the Feast.

Keep those emails and comments coming.


Woke up early this morning expecting to jump out of bed with no back pain. Instead I rolled out of bed, worked my way down the stairs for a cup of coffee and then crawled back into the sack. At about 8:15 my bed began to quiver (the only word I can think of to describe the feeling). A 5.0 earthquake was in progress in the Jordan Valley near Jericho (a few miles due east of us, as the crow flies). I’ve since heard that people near Jericho had their furniture rearranged and things knocked off shelves.

A fault-line runs up the Jordan River Valley. An earthquake along this fault-line is thought to have created the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah during Abraham’s time as well as having created the Dead Sea. Here is a statement from Archaeology Today:

Two geologists think they know how the infamous biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Graham Harris and Tony Beardow argue in the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology that the land near the Dead Sea on which the cities may have stood literally liquefied in an earthquake, swallowing them up ca. 1900 B.C. 

An interesting way to wake up!

I was fed up with not being able to move around, so I decided to get dressed and take the bus downtown and walk off the back pain. I had things I needed to do, anyway, and I was too stubborn to stay home.

The bus ride was almost all I could stand with its sharp turns and bumps. But, I made it downtown. I shuffled my way to the post office and to the money exchange place. I must have looked like a very old man moving very slowly. I sure could have used a walker, maybe even one of Craig’s lift-walkers.

Had decided to get a much needed haircut. I have been looking everywhere for a barber shop since coming here, and just last week had passed one downtown. So, this was the day. I entered the tiny shop and the old barber asked if I had an appointment. “Do I need one?” I asked. “Yes, but if you want to wait, I can fit you in.” I waited about 3/4 of an hour. When I tried to get up from the chair where I was waiting, he had to help me into the barber chair. The old guy had to catch me or I would have fallen on my face. I felt really gimpy.

But, now I’ve had my first Israeli hair cut and I think I’ll stay here until my hair (such as I used to have) grows back. Actually, it’s not TOO bad.

I am going to a Bat Mitzva in Ma’ale Levona Thursday night so I shuffled around town looking for a Bat Mitzva card. I finally found one and by this time was really hungry. I’ve lost 10 pounds since coming here, so decided I’d better pay more attention to my stomach. Ate a wonderful shawarma (what will I do when I can’t get shawarmas and humus in Tennessee?). By then, I was pretty tired. The plan to walk off the pain wasn’t working, so I decided to go home and lie down, which I did.

Danny will pick me up tomorrow and I’ll spend the next few days in Ma’ale Levona. Have begun working on Yossi’s book again. This time I think I can do what he wants done. I’ll spend some time with him when I get to Ma’ale Levona and we’ll see.

Take care and send me some home-town news. Miss you all. Chris

This week

Tuesday: Took the bus to the zoo and walked around looking for the homeschoolers. The zoo was very impressive. Wish I had taken some pictures. Anyway, we all sat under a shade tree while we discussed lots of issues, most of them having nothing to do with homeschooling. These women are very “natural”: they breastfeed in front of everyone and some let their very young children go around naked. There are Orthodox Jews and non-religious Jews mixed in the group. But, they all get along very well and I had a good time. I find that most people are willing to talk when you ask lots of questions and are interested in what they have to say.

One couple has just arrived in Israel with their daughters. They are Christians taking a sabbatical year off from the husband’s professorship at a Michigan university. A great family and we will get together again, I’m sure.

Danny and Judy picked me up from the zoo and I arrived at Ma’ale Levona just as the sun was setting over the western hills. We decided to begin our work the next day.

All day Wed & Thurs Danny and I worked on the new website for our travel-to-Israel initiative. Yossi came over last night and we had a long, honest and fruitful talk about his book. I am going to begin looking at it again while I work with Danny. The current plan is for me to spend several days per week in Ma’ale Levona.

Was planning to take the bus back to Jerusalem Friday morning, but I woke up Thurs morning with my back hurting so severely that Danny drove me to Jerusalem last night. I am now doing a lot of lying down.

This should be a quiet weekend while I allow my back to heal.

Charles Newbold: Danny, Judy, Yossi and I watched your DVD again. Danny asked how difficult it would be to email him the pictures. Yossi asked how he could get a copy. Any ideas?

What’s up at Colinx? Haven’t heard any news in awhile?

And, what’s up at CCP? Haven’t heard from you guys either.

I need some news from back home!

Some good days…

Thursday: Spent the day at the Israel Museum. I love museums and Israel has one of the best. Saw the Shrine of the Book (where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed). Notice how they keep the dome cool. Then spent a long time going through the archaeological rooms which are full of the cool things archaeologists have dug up from around the country. I wanted to take some pictures, but as soon as the flash went off the first time, a guard was in my face, “NO pictures!” she said. I was very disappointed because some of the things in the museum are amazing, like the oldest and largest alter every found. The one I did take is of the end of the coffin of King Uzziah. The inscription says, “The bones of King Uzziah were moved here.” You may remember how the Book of Isaiah opens, “The year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” Uzziah was a leper. Here are a couple of pictures of a scale model of the city of Jerusalem during Jesus’ day [1] [2].

Sunday: Danny called me in the morning and asked if I wanted to accompany him to Masada and, along the way, discuss some of the itineraries we have been working on. I met him downtown after purchasing an egg croissant at my favorite “bacon and egg” place: Coffee Time Bagel (no bacon).

Danny and I headed east down the Jericho Road (remember the “Good Samaritan” who was traveling this very road in Jesus’ parable). From Jerusalem (about 2,000 ft. elevation) you go down, down, down to the lowest point on the planet at Jericho. Here the road “t’s” at the Jordan River and you have to turn either north or south. We turned south toward that amazing place, Masada, built by Herod as a fortress in the event his subjects (the Jews) ever revolted against his evil rule.

Along the way, I took some pictures: Bedouin home, Dead Sea, hill of Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), Masada Guest House (and, for those of you coming here next year–its new pool). By the way, for those of you who know that Moses didn’t get into the Promised Land, here is a somewhat hazy picture, looking back across the border into Moab (now Jordan) at the mountain from which Moses was allowed to look into the land he never entered.

Returned to Jerusalem and before Danny dropped me off, I asked him to take me to the place where a group of young archaeologists are sifting through dirt from the Temple Mount. Our group had gone there last year and I wanted to help these archaeologists a few times while I was in Jerusalem.

The archaeologists have set up a tarped area right in the middle of the Arab part of Jerusalem. I was welcomed by these dedicated people and told to come any time I wanted. “We never have enough help,” they told me. “But,” they warned, “even though it is only a couple of miles walk down from the Old City, don’t walk through the Arab section of town. Take the bus to the top of Mount Scopus where the Hebrew University sits, and then you can walk down an embankment directly to where our tent is set up.”

They pointed up to the top of Mount Scopus and tried to orient me from where we stood in the valley below so I would know how to get to them from the top of the mountain. I wasn’t prepared for what would happen today when I tried to find them.

“Why are these archaeologists sifting through material from the Temple Mount?” you may ask. (Ask, anyway, even if you don’t care! I want to tell you). Remember that the Dome of the Rock (which is not a Mosque) and the Al Aqsa Mosque (which is) are both located on the Temple Mount. In reality, even though the place is called the “Temple Mount”, it is controlled by the Palestinians. Because they can, the Palestinians have decided to build the world’s largest mosque UNDER the Temple Mount and have, for the past few years, been digging (excavating) UNDER the Mount to build their mosque. Here is a blurry picture of their work. The picture was taken inside the walls of the Temple Mount and shows the Palestinians using heavy equipment. Anyway, they have been taking all the dirt they have excavated and have thrown it into the Arab landfill in the Arab section of Jerusalem. That is why the archaeologists have located their tent in the Arab section, next to the landfill.

Of course, this is probably the most precious archeological material that exists in all of Israel. You would think the government wouldn’t allow it! You would think they would draw a line in the sand about people destroying the Temple Mount. I will try to explain why they haven’t in something I am writing and saving to share next week.

Monday: So, this morning, I took the bus to the top of Mount Scopus and tried to find the hillside I was supposed to walk down into the Arab area and the archaeological work where I was yesterday. I walked around this huge university for over 2 hours and almost gave up before I found out where I was supposed to be. I walked down the hill to the site and was welcomed and given my duties–sift through Temple Mount dirt looking for anything.

I wish I had taken pictures of some of what I found. Maybe the next time. I found a hank of hair, a piece of bone, and, uh…wait a minute. That’s not right. Actually I found some pretty cool stuff, some of it from the First Temple Period, or around 1,000BC.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to spend the day with the English speaking homeschoolers of Israel. Then I travel to Ma’ale Levona to spend the rest of the week with Danny and meet again with Yossi.

Stay tuned…