Archives for posts with tag: Jews

state of israel | Here’s a map of Israel as things stand today:

You must be crazy. You are going to get yourself killed. That or some similar comment is what I have heard every time I am preparing to visit Israel. And I have been there more than two dozen times over the past four decades.

My first trip to the region (known as Israel, Palestine, West Bank) was in 1981. At that time I spoke with an elderly man who had traveled to the Holy Land every year starting in 1966. He told me that he always was confronted by people who believed he was putting himself in danger and could not believe why he would do something so foolish. Thirty-seven years later I face the same situation.

There is no question that there is conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. There is even conflict within those two groups. There is no denying that there are incidents of violence as a result of the differences of opinion about ownership of the land. To suggest that there is no tension and no abuse of human rights would be foolish. Nevertheless, I have never felt unsafe or at risk as I have traveled throughout the region. And I know hundreds, probably thousands, of persons who have experiences similar to mine.

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During the time when Manuel Noriega was the de facto ruler of Panama a group form my church went to Panama on a work mission. Noriega had strong political ties to the United States but he was not very popular with many of the Panamanian people. In a conversation with the church leader with whom the team was working the question was raised, “What do the people of Panama think about us Americans?” The reply was, “They love you. They just don’t like your government.”

Peace out. Photo by Sharon Altshul

Over the years of traveling to the Middle East I have found the Israelis and Palestinians to be warm and friendly people. Their opinions about their government and ours does not prevent them from being welcoming and kind. Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income and benefits all of the people in the land. One report indicates that 3.6 million tourists arrived in Israel/Palestine in 2017. While the ideological and political struggles are ongoing, people from all over the world are welcomed.

The faithful in prayer. Photo by Jaeheon, Kim.

A shop keeper sits across from his shop in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. Photo by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites, beach resorts, archaeological tourism, heritage tourism, and ecotourism. One source suggests that Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world. A large percentage of the tourists come to visit sites of significant to three of the major religions of the world- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

Many people are afraid to go to Israel because of the frequent news reports of violence. We hear daily of random acts of violence in schools, churches, shopping malls, and on the streets of cities and small communities all over the United States. But we don’t stop sending our children to school. We don’t quit shopping at the mall or attending sporting events and concerts. We don’t stop going to our places of worship.

We live in a dangerous and violent world. I realize there is a real possibility of encountering violence in Israel but I do not believe it is more likely than in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Newtown (Connecticut), or Sutherland Springs (Texas).That is our reality but we cannot allow this “new reality” to sap us of our enthusiasm for life or the adventure and education of travel.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2018 Everyone

At the beginning of a new year many people make New Year’s resolutions. It is an attempt to express one’s intention to “to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life” (Wikipedia). I am not one of those people.

One study found 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were likely to succeed, over ten times as much as those who decided to make life changes at other times of the year.

new year's resolutions : Stock Photo

Darin P. St. George, a personal trainer who works under the pseudonym Trainer X at Gold’s Gym in Natick, Mass., suggests that New Year’s resolutions are as fleeting as the rose petals littering the streets of Pasadena after the Rose Bowl parade has gone by.

Jason Elias, PhD, a staff  psychologist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. says it’s OK to make New Year’s resolutions, but only if you see them not as unbreakable promises to yourself, but as positive statements about possibilities.

“What New Year’s resolutions tend to be is a statement of your motivation of your intentions — like a bit of cheerleading for yourself.” He tells WebMD. “But the problem with that is that sometimes people set their goals too high, such as ‘getting my life back on track,’ and those things are way too big to keep track of, to know whether or not you’re even making progress on them.”

Since I do not engage in the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions I cannot offer any personal experiences of success or failure at accomplishing them. I will not pass on any suggestions of their value but in the early stages of 2018 I want to share some advice given by one of the world’s greatest leaders.

Words That Ring Through Time: From Moses and Pericles to Obama - Fifty-one of the Most Important Speeches in History and How They Changed Our World (Hardback)

In his book Words That Ring Throughout Time, Terry Golway includes the words of  Moses, the great Liberator of the Jewish people 3000 years ago. After leading the Israelites for over 40 years, they are about to cross into the Promised Land. But Moses is faced with the reality that he will not enter with them. As he prepares for his death he addresses the people.

Moses Talks to His People

The Book of Deuteronomy contains Moses memories of the long and treacherous journey from exile in Egypt. As he prepares to turn over the leadership role to Joshua, “Moses issued a stern warning, leavened by encouragement and the promise of rewards for keeping faith in God” (Golway).

Hello January

 

With the first month of 2018 almost half gone, I offer the words of Moses as guidance for the future.

Listen obediently to God and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

I set before you today life and what’s good versus death and what’s wrong. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess.

But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won’t last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life—so that you and your descendants will live by loving the Lord your God, by obeying his voice, and by clinging to him. That’s how you will survive and live long on the fertile land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.*

Jamie Jenkins

*Deuteronomy 30:10, 15-20 adapted from The Message, The Common English Bible, and The New International Version

I have just returned from a trip to Israel. It is not my first time to visit the place that is, for a third of humanity, literally holy land. Israel is the crossroads for three great religions. Consequently the Holy Land has been coveted and fought over for centuries.

My first visit to Israel was in 1981 and some people cautioned me that it was an unsafe destination. I spoke with one man who had journeyed to the region every year for the previous 22 years. He told me, “Every time I am getting ready to go someone tells me I am crazy and will get myself killed.”

Since that conversation 34 years ago I have heard the same thing each of the more than two dozen times I have made the pilgrimage to the land of the Bible. I am sure I will hear the same thing next year when I return. But I have never felt uncomfortable or at risk and hundreds (maybe thousands) of others have told me the same.

Travel guru, Rick Steves said, “If you just read the headlines, a visit to Israel can be scary. For 1500 years Christians, Jews and Muslims have struggled over the Holy Land. The presence of barbed wire and armed soldiers is really nothing new. Invasions and political turmoil have been the norm now for 4000 years. In our generation, terrorists have left their ugly mark. But tourists or popular tourist centers have never been targeted. While there are still problems to be worked out, no angry group is angry at tourists.”

To be sure there is tension in the Middle East, not just in Israel, but many thousands of people visit the Holy Land (Israel, Jordan, Egypt) every year. While you hear a lot from the news media about violence in Israel, you never hear of tourists being the target.

Perception is reality but sometimes it is a false reality. While the media paints a picture of horror and hostility between the peoples of Israel, I have witnessed ordinary people- Palestians and Israelis, Muslims, Christians, and Jews- living together in a frustrating qaundry. And the request from persons of various ethnic and religious backgrounds is the same, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

An acquaintance recently went with his wife and four children to Israel and Jordan over the Christmas holidays. His reflections on the experience included the following: “The politicians and fanatics, like in most cases, scream the loudest, but yet again, the silent majority needs to be heard more. We are all just about the same people-wanting to eat, drink, have shelter and be protected and ensure our children have a better life than we did.”

One of my fellow travelers from the most recent visit to Israel said, ” Everything we did brought me back to my strong Christian heritage and upbringing and has rekindled fires within me that, over the years, had dwindled somewhat.” Another called it “a trip of a lifetime.” Comments like these cause me to want to return to the Holy Land and take others with me.

Today is Holy Thursday, observed by Christians on the fifth day of the week leading up to Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ and his disciples. Tomorrow is Good Friday when we remember the death of Jesus who we call the Messiah. Then on Sunday Christians all over the world will celebrate the victory of life over death as we remember the Resurrection of Jesus.

One of those who just returned from the Holy Land said, “Easter will be even more incredible after our experience.” Yes, it will!

Jamie Jenkins