Sunday, April 29, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 29, 2012

My trip began and ended with music. At the beginning I played a recital of music by Haydn, Schumann, Debussy, Ben-Haim, Liszt, and Chopin at Kehillat Yozma, a progressive Jewish congregation in Modi'in, Israel. It ended with a program of music for choir and organ at Harvard University's Memorial Church (about which I will have more to say). It also began and ended in places that were and are holy, at least to me - Israel and Harvard.  But I'm getting ahead of the story...

Our last day in Israel was Yom HaAtzmaut - Independence Day. It began with a visit to Israel's version of Independence Hall on Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv. That was where Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, proclaimed the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, and where the Israeli Declaration of Independence was signed. The room where the signing took place is not very large. Our guide told us that because there was no room for the musicians of the Palestine Orchestra, they assembled in an upstairs room and had to be signaled to play the national anthem - Ha Tikvah - at the appropriate moment. We also heard a recording of Ben Gurion's speech (in Hebrew) announcing the declaration of independence. I have to admit it was quite moving. The audacity of Ben Gurion and his fellow Zionists declaring Israel's independence was, if possible, even more remarkable than that of Washington, Jefferson, et al, in 1776. Both groups faced certain war and overwhelming odds - the Israelis from Arab states on three sides and the Americans from the greatest military power of the 18th century - Great Britain. And in both cases, audacity paid off. 

After visiting Independence Hall, we walked down Rothschild Blvd. One of the most interesting buildings we saw contained an investment firm on the ground floor and the offices of a Marxist student organization on an upper floor!

Then we reboarded the bus for a visit to Yafo, the biblical city of Joppa, site of the prophet Jonah's flight to Tarshish and of Peter's vision of clean and unclean animals in Acts 10. I talked for a few minutes about Peter's vision and how the decision by early Christians to dispense with the Jewish dietary laws and circumcision allowed Christianity to become a universal faith. I also talked a little about Paul and his sense of his "Jewishness." 

In the afternoon we gathered for a "debriefing." Julian asked each of us to share a "meaningful moment." I talked about Judy Miller's question, asking if the trip had changed my perceptions. I said that it hadn't changed my perceptions but had deepened them. I regard myself as both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, but anti-violence and terror. In Nazareth I went into a shop to buy a cross. The woman in the shop was a Christian Palestinian. When I told her that I was an Anglican priest, she said, "Please pray for us. Nobody cares for us - not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not even the Vatican." How can you not be on the side of people like that?

Our last night in Israel we had dinner in a marvelous restaurant - the Social Club. Afterward, most of our group went to the airport for their flight home, but some of us with flights the next day went back to the hotel. I had a flight the next morning at 8 am, so I was up by 4 to catch a taxi at 5. I had to change planes in London and after nearly 24 hrs of traveling I got to Atlanta.

I stayed over night with my friends David and Duane and left way too early the next morning, Sat., Apr. 28, for a flight to Boston. My reason for flying to Boston was to attend a concert honoring my dear, late friend, the Rev. Prof. Peter J. Gomes, who for 40 years was the Harvard University chaplain. Some friends from my graduating class and I had planned to commission a piece for the chapel choir in his honor. The last conversation Peter and I had was about the text for the piece and the composer. When I asked him to suggest a composer, he said, "Well, I suppose Elgar is dead..." So he turned over the selection of the composer to the university organist, Edward Jones, and me, and we decided on Craig Phillips, the director of music at All Saints' Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills. The text was Peter's confirmation verse: "beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a livingsacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed tothis world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is thatgood, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." And, of course, Peter insisted that we use the King James' version. 

Phillips' setting of the piece is beautiful, and I have to admit that tears were running down my cheek when the choir finished singing it. It may just be my imagination, but the choir seemed moved, too.

Tomorrow I go home after a long, exhausting, and incredibly rewarding journey. As I said at the top of this post, I ended as I began, in a holy place. Harvard and its Memorial Church are not holy the way that Israel is holy, but they are special places to me. As Israel demonstrates, holy places are not always peaceful, but they are places that challenge us, and both Israel and Harvard have done that for me many times. They are also places where we connect to God, to each other, and to ourselves in new, unexpected, and often uncomfortable ways. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 26, 2012

Our guide, Julian Resnick, is a transplanted South African Jew. He became involved in the Socialist Zionist movement in South Africa (he says that socialism is not a dirty word for him), and moved to Israel in response to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. We like to give Julian a hard time because everything is "complicated" and "extraordinary" and every place or situation "asks a question." But that's Julian. He is a man of wide learning and strong passions.

On our way down to Tel Aviv from the Galilee, we went first to Yemin Ord, a community that works with children from difficult backgrounds. Our guide there was Raquel, an Ethiopian Jew who speaks 3 languages - Amharic (her native tongue), Hebrew, and English. She told us of the covert operation that Israel undertook to remove hundreds of Jews from Ethiopia and transfer them to Israel. It has not been an easy transition, because most of them had never seen a toilet, much less an airplane.

Next we went to Caesaria, the seaport that Herod the Great built to honor the Roman emperor Augustus. The Israelis have renovated a large theatre there that overlooks the Mediterranean. A member of our group was thrilled when we asked her to go up on the stage and sing so that we could check out the acoustics.

In the evening we went to Julian's own community, Kibbutz Tzora, for dinner and conversation with some of the young people. It was also the eve of Israel's "Memorial Day", a time for remembering those who have been killed in Israel's wars. The simple outdoor ceremony was moving, especially the singing of Israel's national anthem, "Ha Tikvah".

The next day we went first to a museum containing the works of Reuven Rubin, an Israeli artist from the early part of the 20th century. We were all intrigued by his painting, "First Seder in Jerusalem", which depicts Jesus sitting at a table with a group of Israelis, including the painter Rubin himself.

I went off on my own after that to visit a music library and museum dedicated to the pianist Felicia Blumenthal.

In the evening we celebrated the beginning of Israeli's Independence Day at the "Punchline", a restaurant/club/bar. I can say confidently that Israelis know how to have a good time. They can even get a middle aged Episcopal priest up and on his feet to dance to "Hava Nagila."

Today we went to Joppa and I talked briefly about Peter's vision of clean and unclean food and the heavenly voice telling him to give up the dietary restrictions and divisions between Christians and Jews. I also talked about Paul's insistence in Philippians that he was Jewish.

Last night after dinner several of us took a taxi back to the hotel. I walked up the beach for a hundred yards or so. The moon was a slender reddish crescent hanging just above the sea, and Venus was a brilliant point of light about 5 degrees to the right. I looked out at the "wine dark" water of the Mediterranean and thought about all the warriors and explorers who have crossed it - Achilles, Ulysses, Alexander the Great, the Romans, Jews fleeing the Holocaust, and so on.

The modern state of Israel is only 64 years old, but is built on an ancient foundation. Israelis have built a state where there is real political freedom and diversity, although (like every nation) it has flaws. As we sing in the U.S., so may it be for Israel: May God "mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 23, 2012

The Muslim holy day is Friday; the Jewish holy day is Saturday; and the Christian holy day is Sunday. So since we are in the Jewish state, we were looking forward to the arrival of Shabbat (the Sabbath) on Friday evening.

However, before we rested, we had to work! Friday began with a visit to Ammunition Hill, a site critical to the Six Day War in 1967. Remember that prior to June, 1967, Jerusalem was part of the kingdom of Jordan. In 1947, the U.N. proposed the establishment of 2 states - one Jewish and one Palestinian. Israel accepted the plan, but the Palestinians did not. The 1947 borders established a very narrow state, mostly on the coastal that slopes down to the Mediterranean. In the 1948 War of Independence, Israel also seized land in the Galilee that would otherwise have gone to the Palestinians. In response to war-like acts by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt in 1967, Israel also attacked and seized Jerusalem and the west bank of the Jordan River.

Following our visit to Ammunition Hill, we visited one of the disputed settlements on the west bank - Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. It may or may not be part of a future Palestinian state, but for now it makes wonderful wine and we had a terrific lunch there.

The lunch put us in a properly reflective mood for Shabbat which we celebrated seated on the southern steps of the Temple platform where Jews "went up" to Herod the Great's temple 2000 years ago. We were joined by Adam, a rabbinical student from San Francisco, and his girl friend, Emma, a cantorial student from San Diego. Emma led the music and Adam accompanied her on his guitar, and they could not have been nicer. They are here for a year studying Hebrew. Afterward, we went back to our hotel for an enormous Shabbat dinner.

Although it was meant to be a day of rest, Saturday was busy. Several of us went to the Israel Museum in the morning, and in the afternoon we were off to Bethlehem, which is now administered by the Palestinian Authority. There we visited the Church of the Nativity, founded by the Empress Helena, Constantine's mother, in the 4th c. While there we watched and listened as Orthodox monks and priests sang evening prayer amid clouds of incense. Saturday evening I walked up to BenYehuda street for falafel and watched as the streets filled with people as Shabbat ended, enjoying themselves before going back to work or school the next day.

Sunday morning we were up early for our 2 hour trip to the Galilee. First, we went to Banias, near the site of the Biblical city Caesarea Philippi, where Peter acclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. In Roman times it was also a place for the worship of Pan. It's easy to see why it was a place of worship. It is where the River Jordan originates and the water flows down and over a series of dams with green plants growing just beneath the surface. Then, we went to Capernaum at the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Capernaum is where Jesus called his first disciples, worked his first miracle (according to Mark he freed a man from a demonic spirit), and it may have been Jesus' home for a time. Standing in the ruins of a 4th c. synagogue, I talked about Capernaum's significance in the gospels.

Then we drove to one of the loveliest and (to Christians, at least) most important spots in Israel - the Mount of the Beatitudes. There Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is remembered in a church overlooking the Sea of Galilee and set in the midst of glorious gardens. The Christians in our group gathered for a short worship service, inviting our Jewish friends to join us. I led the service and talked about how the Beatitudes demonstrate Jesus' "Jewishness". Like Psalm 1 ("Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly..."), Jesus employes a Jewish literary form. And like the prophets, Jesus puts God firmly on the side of the poor and disenfranchised. At the conclusion of the service, Rabbi Miller blessed us in Hebrew and I translated into English.

We spent the evening at a lovely hotel run by Kibbutz Lavi.

Today we went first to Jesus' boyhood home - the town of Nazareth. It is an Arab village that was formerly mostly Christian but is becoming more and more Muslim. Roman Catholics remember the story of the angel Gabriel's "annunciation" of Jesus' birth to Mary in a modern and beautiful basilica that is built over the ruins of a first century house that might have belonged to Jesus' family. A very special feature of the basilica is a series of depictions of Mary done in the styles of cultures from around the world. There is a Chinese Mary and an Uruguayan Mary and so on.

After Nazareth we went to the town of Tsafed very close to the Lebanese border. Tsafed was the home of Rabbi Jacob Luria, one of the founders of the Jewish mystical tradition known as "Qabbalah". It is really one of my favorite places in Israel. Set on the top of a hill, the narrow, windy streets and views of the valley down below remind me of Assissi in Italy.

We ended the day on a completely different note, visiting a "high tech" incubator and learning about some exciting biotech inventions being developed there.

Tomorrow we are off to the last leg of our journey in Tel Aviv.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 20, 2012

Night before last was a highlight of this trip. Really, it was a highlight of all the trips I've made to Israel. First, some background: Last summer, my clergy group met Dr. Susanna Kokkonen when we were here. She is a Finn with a Ph.D. in Holocaust studies from Hebrew Univ in Jerusalem, and is director of the Christian Friends of Yad vaShem, the Holocaust museum in Israel. Jonathan subsequently brought her to Birmingham, where she spoke at Temples Emanu-El and Beth-El, Southside Baptist Church, and Samford Univ. She arranged for all of us to go to the state of Israel's official Holocaust memorial service at Yad vaShem.

Because of security we had to arrive 2 hours ahead of time. Keep in mind that this is a desert country and that Jerusalem is fairly high up in the hills, so it was quite cold and there was a wind. Although the official temperature was 60-something Fahrenheit, it felt like the 40s. I was wearing a dark suit and my clerical collar, but I was freezing. Both Israel's president, Shimon Peres, and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke. There were also presentations by several Holocaust survivors, the reading of psalms by the chief rabbi and the praying of the "Kaddish" (the Jewish prayer for mourners), and Israel's national anthem - "Ha Tikvah"- was beautifully sung by a young soldier.

I have to say that I was more moved by Pres. Shimon Peres than by Netanyahu. He has been involved in Israeli politics from the very beginning and led the Labour Party for many years, including a brief stint as prime minister. Half the Jews from the Polish village where he was born came here and the other half were murdered in the Holocaust. He said that he went back there a few years ago and there are no Jews there any longer. I was also deeply moved by the story of a Holocaust survivor who is also an author of children's books who said that she wants children to maintain their faith in humanity. If anyone has earned the right to lose her faith in humanity, it is she, but she has not lost her faith in her fellow human beings.

After the ceremony, we were invited to the reception in the museum. There was quite a rush for the hot coffee and tea. In spite of the bitter cold, I'm deeply grateful for the experience.

The next day we toured Hadassah hospital. It is a hospital built by members of Hadassah, a world-wide Jewish women's organization. Particularly impressive was the children's wing. It was greatly expanded a few years ago with a gift from New York mayor Michael Blumberg in honor of his mother. All the doctors and nurses are required to speak both Hebrew and Arabic and they care for Jews and Palestinians alike. They also require that family members stay with the children at all times, so in addition to the hospital beds, there are futons in every room.

Hadassah hospital is also famous because of the windows that Marc Chagall created for the hospital's synagogue. There are 12 windows, one for each of the tribes of Israel. I had never seen them before, and they are magnificent.

Following our visit to Hadassah, we went back to Yad vaShem for a tour of the museum itself. Twice I visited the original Holocaust museum, but the present museum was built only a few years ago. This was my second time to go through it. But the exhibits are so extensive that I think you could spend years there and not see everything. There is no way to wrap your mind around the murder of 6 million Jews, plus the murders of 5 million others - Romany (Gypsies), the mentally and physically handicapped, Slavs, Communists, and homosexuals. Yad vaShem does a marvelous job of conveying not only information but a feeling for this unique historically event. In the original Holocaust museum I saw this quotation from the Baal Shem Tov, a 17th c. Jewish mystic: "Remembrance is the path to redemption but forgetfulness is the way to exile." Following our tour, Jonathan led us in a brief but moving service.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 19, 2012

Although this is only the third day of our study tour it feels as though we have been here a week or longer.

The day before I left Modi'in one of Michael and Nechama's dogs chowed down on my CPAP mask - part of the apparatus I wear that helps me breathe while I'm sleeping. The Nemals were terribly apologetic, but I wasn't too bothered by it. The dogs were just being dogs, and I figured that I could get another one overnighted from the US. Worst case I would have to sleep a couple of nights more or less sitting up in a chair. But Michael and Nechama made several phone calls and thought that we could find a replacement in Modì 'in. First, they took me to the Israeli national health facility that they use. Frankly, it was amazing. It is bright, shiny, brand new, and everything is up to date. Their primary doctor, dentist, and pharmacy are in a single building. Of course, taxes pay for it, but Israelis don't pay anything out of pocket for health care. The Nemals told me of a friend who had moved there from the Netherlands. He needed a lung transplant, but because he was 63, he could not get on the transplant waiting list in Holland. However, in Israel he was given a new lung. Anyway, the people at the national health pharmacy were very nice but did not have a replacement. Then we went to an organization called Yad Sarah (Sarah's Hand) that provides free medical equipment to those who cannot afford it. They were also extremely nice but did not have one. Finally, the next day Nechama drove me to Tel Aviv (30 mins or less), and I got a replacement there. Unless my insurance in the US reimburses me, it will be the most expensive souvenir I buy on this trip!

After our scenic tour of lovely downtown Tel Aviv, Nechama took me back to Modi'in to get the "sherut" (shared taxi) that would take me to Jerusalem. After I checked into the hotel I came back down to the lobby to check email, and I ran into Rabbi Miller, Donald and Ronne Hess and other members of our group.

At 6.30 we all walked from the hotel just a couple of blocks to a spot just across the street from the walls of the old city. Our guide, Julian Resnick, is a South African Jew by birth, who "made aliyah" in 1976. Julian left South Africa on July 3, the day that Israeli commandos freed the airliner that had been hijacked by terrorists and forced down in Entebbe. The only Israeli soldier killed on that mission was Yoni Netanyahi, the current prime minister's brother and (I'm proud to say) an alumnus of Harvard. Julian told us that as the airplane he was on lifted off, the pilot spoke to the passengers, urging them not to be concerned. Julian looked out the window and saw that his plane was being accompanied by Israeli fighter jets. It turns out that Libya's dictator, Qaddafi, had ordered that a plane en route to Israel be shot down in retaliation for the Entebbe raid, and Julian's plane was the one marked for destruction. Julian gave us a quick but thorough orientation to Jerusalem and then we went to dinner.

The next morning we were up early for a talk by Rabbi Daniel Gordis (American by birth but an Israeli for many years). I have to tell you that my own thoughts and feelings about Israel have evolved a great deal. After my first trip here in 1985 I came back very pro-Palestinian. Every subsequent trip has made me less pro-Palestinian. I like to say that I am pro-justice, and that is true, but the Palestinians (as former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban said) "never lose an opportunity to lose an opportunity". There are no simple solutions or simple answers to anything here, however if there were a simple solution, this would be it: If the Palestinians would engage in the kind of non-violent resistance that Dr. King and Gandhi practiced, they would have their own state in a matter of months or sooner. But unfortunately, that is not what is happening.

Anyway, Rabbi Gordis made the most persuasive case for Israel that I have ever heard. He rehearsed the history that led up to Israel's founding and said that Jews should not fully trust anyone who says that they will take care of them. During the Holocaust, the entire world, with only a few minor exceptions, turned its back on the Jews. Gordis said that Israel is a guarantee that that will never happen again. Gordis' talk was particularly effective because this is the week of Yom HaShoah - the day that Jews remember the Holocaust.

After Gordis' talk we began our tour with a visit to the southern steps of the Temple platform. The Temple platform was built by Herod the Great in the years before the birth of Jesus. It was a part of Jordan until the 1967 war, and the excavations have been going on for years. This was the first time that I have been able to go there. We continued around the southwest corner of the platform to the most famous spot in Jerusalem - the Western Wall of the Temple platform where Jews have prayed since the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. All of us took a moment to go there and say our own prayers.

Then we visited the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mt of Olives and the adjacent Church of All Nations. I said a few words about the garden and the Last Supper and had one of the other Christians on the trip read Mark's account of Jesus' prayer in the garden. I also introduced the next location we were going to - the Via Dolorosa.

Everyone who has visited Jerusalem, especially every western Christian, is quite shocked by the noise, bustle, dirt, and commercialism that lines the Via Dolorosa, but do we really think it was any different 2000 years ago when a relatively obscure Palestinian peasant named Jesus of Nazareth was tried on charges of treason by the Roman governor Pilate and given his cross to take out to the place of execution? I imagine that most people went about their business as Jesus walked the way of the cross. And it is still the same today...

At the end of the Via Dolorosa is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We stopped by the Ethiopian chapel on the roof of the church and I gave people a brief orientation to it, explaining that the correct name is the Church of the Anastasis or Resurrection, that the original church was built by the Emperor Constantine's mother Helen in the 4th c., and that the church we see today was built by the Crusaders after they destroyed Helen's church in the 11th c. I also cautioned people that the church would not conform to our western and North American ideas of holiness. Like most of Jerusalem, it is noisy, dirty, and crowded. It is also a witness to Christian disunity. It is controlled by Greek and Russian Orthodox, the Armenian Church, Ethiopian and Egyptian Copts, and the Roman Catholic Church, and frequently these various groups disagree, sometimes violently. They cannot even agree who will maintain the church, so the key of the church is held by one Muslim family but another Muslim family is responsible for opening and closing the church.

The only time that the Anastasis or Holy Sepulchre feels holy is early in the morning, especially on Sunday. Even though there are many competing Christian groups who worship at different altars, I enjoy hearing the different melodies and languages in which they sing God's praises.

Enough for now... more soon...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friendship journey to Israel - Apr. 15, 2012

Shalom and salaam from Israel! Several months ago Rabbi Jonathan Miller asked if I would help him lead a group of Jews and Christians (mostly from Birmingham) on a trip to Israel. It was being organized by my friends Donald and Ronne Hess. I was honored and feel grateful to be a part of this wonderful group.

I actually set out several days ahead of the rest of the group. Last summer the clergy group that Jonathan and I are part of were in Jerusalem and we met and talked with Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon,, one of Jonathan's seminary classmates and the first woman to function as a rabbi in Israel. She and I discovered a mutual love of music, and I asked if I could perform in her synagogue - Kehillat Yozma in Modi'in, a town between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Our trip began right after an exhausting but good Holy Week and Easter. Starting on the Mon. after Easter I began to pack and clean frantically. By the time I left on Wed. my house was so clean I was reluctant to leave! And in the little spare time I had I was practicing for my performance. So on Wed., Apr. 11, I set out. I took the van from the Birmingham airport to the Atlanta airport. The only other passenger in the van was an Arabic speaker, and just for a moment, I wondered, "What if...?" but that thought is not worth finishing. Will we ever get beyond our suspicion of Arabs and Muslims?

On the way to Atlanta I reviewed the music that I was going to play. Sometimes I become so familiar with pieces of music that I can play them in my head. I'm also ready to work on something new! But I still like these pieces and enjoy playing them.

The Atlanta airport was full of young men and women in military uniforms. I wonder what it will look like when the US withdraws from Afghanistan? I hope we 're not involved in a new war by then.

From Atlanta I flew to London. The flight was long, boring and exhausting. I read from my Kindle and listened to music on my iPod and was struck with wonder at the thought of listening to Schubert at 35,000 feet. I put on my noise-cancelling headphones and the world pretty much dropped away. My iPod contains all of Beethoven's symphonies and piano sonatas, all of Mozart's piano concertos, Haydn's masses, every note Chopin composed for the piano, Stravinsky's ballets and on and on. My Kindle has the Bible, the Prayer Book, the complete Shakespeare, and all of Dickens and Twain. And it is available to me as I fly from Atlanta to London to Tel Aviv.

I really like to fly British Airways but that means changing planes in London. I had a long layover in London and managed to sleep a few hours at the Yotel - a kind of mini-hotel - in Heathrow. Then I flew on to Tel Aviv. All in all I traveled about 2 days to get here by ground and air (including 2 overnight flight).

I've never seen Ben Gurion airport so empty. I didn't check any bags, so I whizzed through passport control and was out to the taxi stand in just a few minutes. Modi'in is about half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I think the taxi ride was only about 20 mins, and I arrived at Kinneret's house around 6.30 am. She was awake and made me some tea, but most of her family were still asleep. However, her mother, Marilyn, who lives in Sun City West in Arizona, was visiting. Marilyn and I really hit it off. At the synagogue that evening I asked if I could be her "date" and she got a kick out of that.

I learned a little more about Kinneret, too. She has wanted to be a rabbi since she was 15 or 16, but that was before they started ordaining women. Also, she grew up in a Conservative synagogue. (Note: Most Jews in the U.S. belong to one of 3 "denominations": Orthodox (most conservative), Conservative (middle of the road), and Reform (liberal). Today both Conservative and Reform traditions ordain women.) Anyway, she switched to Reform Judaism and she met my friend Jonathan Miller at seminary in New York.

Kinneret's husband, Baruch, and her 2 youngest children, Amichai (son) and Inbar (daughter) were also at home. Inbar is an art student in Jerusalem, and Amichai is in the army but almost finished with his service. He studied music seriously in high school and wants to continue his musical studies after the army. He is a guitarist and interested in jazz.

After resting for a while, Kinneret took me to Kehillat Yozma. Their building includes not only the synagogue, but also a K-6 school. In Israel, synagogues, rabbis, and religious schools are state-supported, EXCEPT for the ones that belong to liberal or progressive Jews, so Kinneret's group receives no state funds.

After showing me around, Kinneret left me to practice for a couple of hours. Even though I was dead tired I went through my entire program and worked on a few problem areas. When I was through I called her and she brought me back to her home.

The Friday evening service was lovely, especially the music. Baruch plays the guitar very well, and the singing was lively. Although people helped me follow along in the prayer book, I was only able to pick out the occasional word. However, when a phrase was sung more than once, I could begin to sing along.

After the service, I went back to Kinneret and Baruch's house for sabbath dinner with them and Amichai and Inbar and Marilyn. However, I stayed that evening with another couple from Yozma - Nechama and Michael Nemal. The Nemals "made aliya" (that is, they are Jews who elected to move to Israel) a few years ago. They are also really wonderful people. They have a nice apartment and two terrific Shar Peis - Zimra ("singer" in Hebrew) and Coltrane.

On Sat. the Nemals took me to Bet Guvrin where there are a series of "bell caves" that were used for various purposes (food storage, burial, etc.) from the 3rd c. BCE to the 6th c. CE. I had never been there before and found it fascinating. On the way back we stopped at Emmaus, another place I had not visited before. We returned around 2 pm, and after lunch, I showered and got ready for my program.

The program began with a "chavdalah" service, that is a way of marking the end of the sabbath and is very brief, but my program did not begin until about 8.30 pm. Because it started rather late in the evening I shortened the program I have been playing. I played the Sonata in B flat major (H XVI-41) by Haydn; Kinderszenen by Schumann; The Children's Corner by Debussy; 3 of Paul Ben-Haim's Five Pieces, Op. 34; and Chopin's Ballade in A flat. Everything went quite well. I had a little memory slip in the Haydn but it wasn't too noticeable. The applause at the end was enthusiastic, and when someone asked for an encore, I played Liszt's "Waldesrauschen."

On Sunday, the Nemals took me to the "shuq" or market in Ramle and then we went to lunch in Abu Ghosh, an Arab village near Emmaus. Tomorrow, everyone else on Friendship Journey 2 arrives, and I look forward to catching up with them at the David Citadel Hotel in the late afternoon.