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Shabbat Shalom!

  March 20th, 2009

 We woke up to much needed rain in the Golan this morning. We made our way toward the Sea of Galilee (Ga lee-lee) and spent the early part of the day in the Hula Valley touring the previously drained Agamon Hula (little lake). The lake has been restored by the Kinneret Authority and is now a nature preserve. The wetlands are a major migratory stop for storks and cranes en route this time of year from Africa to Europe. The preserve also functions as training grounds for road cyclists. We saw birds as well as colorfully suited men cruising around the park in aerodynamic formation. The latter half of the day was spent in Beith Shean (Bet-Shane) touring the ancient Roman ruins of Scythopolis. The site was extensively excavated and made a national park only eleven years ago. We had an AMAZING tour of the grounds guided by Avi who pandered to our academic interests by using geography, geology and water management to explain the rich history of the ruins. The city was destroyed by earthquakes several times since its initial construction during the 5th Century BCE and Avi helped us identify the chronological age of ruins based on their (quake induced) placement in relation to one another. To day is the first day of the Sabbath, which lasts from sun down Friday to sundown Saturday. This is a period of rest that is practiced very literally. Everything from elevators to ovens and light switches are automated to keep to the tradition of the Sabbath. The town of Beith Shean was deserted by 3:00 in the afternoon as the work day ended and people headed home to spend the weekend with family. We ended the day celebrating Shabbat at our hostel. Everyone collected in a small makeshift synagogue facing south toward Jerusalem as is tradition. Women and men were seated in separated sections separated by a screen as the Rabbi led the room in chanting prayer. We unexpectedly shared the ceremony with a large group of Russian converts who came together to learn and celebrate their first Shabbat as well. This made for a multi-cultural experience not soon to be forgotten. Tomorrow we continue south and enter into West Bank to be hosted by Al- Quds University.    

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8 Responses to “Shabbat Shalom!”

  1. Thanks Paris for the wonderfully written and thoughtful posts! I am enjoying reading what your collective takes are on the culture, history, and the people of the area. Although you do not betray any sensory overload in your updates, I am sure that it must be both intense and inspiring at times…or not but I am sure that it would be for me!

    Thanks again.

    Travel safe.

    Comment by Travis - March 22nd, 2009 @ 9:57 AM
  2. So, what’s the matter? Why no more trip entries? As far as I can tell no one has made an entry in three days. How quickly the enthusiasm to journal the travels has withered!

    With all the people on this journey, if each person could just make one entry on one day on the blog, there would be plenty of news and observations for the folks back home.

    Mark Twain wrote: “If you wish to inflict a heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to keep a journal a year.” – The Innocents Abroad

    Mark Twain also wrote in the same book:
    “At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty’s sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.”

    Comment by Dennis Sheldrick - March 22nd, 2009 @ 6:27 PM
  3. Yes, we too are missing your posts. It gives us a chance to share in your wonderful adventures. Post just brief notes if that is all your energy allows so we know you’re ok, and longer entries when you can.

    Safe Journey!

    Comment by Rose Alsbury - March 23rd, 2009 @ 6:23 AM
  4. This morning the Dept. of Speech Communication heard from Dr. Gregg Walker, one of the faculty who is on this trip. He reports that they have been unable to access the internet for the last couple of days and thinks that this may last for a couple of more days. Apparently sandstorms and the internet don’t mix well.

    Be patient and stay tuned. Our travelers are trying to post to the blog and will do so as soon as they can get a connection.


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