Fifteen plus hours in an airplane and I'm finally here.
I and my group of southern Minnesota ladies landed in Tel Aviv, Israel late in the afternoon on May 30th and wow, what an experience. I have never flown more than about four hours at one time but our New York to Tel Aviv leg was more than 11 hours - and oddly timed, too. Dinner was served for us promptly at 11:30 p.m. American time and breakfast was served at 4:00 in the afternoon, Israeli time. By the time we got to our hotel on the edge of the Dead Sea, it was 9:00 p.m. and time for dinner again. Good thing the food was tasty, otherwise I would be a little less willing to adjust.
As I said, we touched down in Tel Aviv late in the afternoon and by the time our tour group were all gathered into their buses, the sun was beginning to set and I had my first impression of this country. Care to know what I first noticed?
The highways of Tel Aviv were quiet - too quiet in my opinion, for being the modern bustling metropolis that it is. Guy, our tour guide, quickly told us why. Our arrival in Israel coincided with Shavuot - a Jewish holiday also known as the Feast of Weeks that commemorate the day the Israelites were given the Torah, or the law, on Mount Sinai. As Jewish holidays begin at sundown and involve abstaining from work, commuters on Tel Aviv's roadways were scarce.
Their absence gave us a short window to easily view the countryside as we made a two hour journey to our hotel. Rolling hills and areas of green trees peppered the desert, and as we enjoyed the variety of foliage and farm fields, Guy said something profound. He talked about how all of the green trees and farmland were reclaimed from the desert, and how water was a precious commodity to the Israeli people. Water is so needed for farms to thrive, and wasted water is an affront to the Israelis. (Don't throw out those half empty Dasani water bottles!) He also shared how the Jews, when they finally had the opportunity to reclaim their promised land, rushed to plant the trees and start the farms - and how it related to a word in Isaiah 35 that talks about the glory of Zion: "The wllderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose." I found that particularly fitting.
The journey to our hotel was after night had fallen, so sadly no more wisdom for the night (and no pictures) but we have a big day in store tomorrow. We spend part of the day in En Gedi and the rest on the shores of the Dead Sea. I'm looking forward to the adventure.