I'm one day behind on my postings (forgive me, we've been busy) so I'd like to share with you a bit about yesterday's events...
Our eight day of traveling included tours to the historic home of Mayor Meir Dizengoff -- the first elected official of Tel Aviv -- which now serves as Tel Aviv's "Independence Hall", the actual site where Israel's independence was officially declared on May 14, 1948 (5 Iyar).
From this very moving visit we boarded our bus to travel a short distance to the Palmach museum... a relatively new exhibition that walks visitors through the history of Israel's famous defense force through a simulated and extraordinarily well-conceived mock-up of a small Palmach unit of young men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for the security of Israel (Palestine, at the time). No photos were allowed around or inside this building. When you have a chance to visit Israel... make sure to put this stop on your itinerary!
Next on our itinerary... a brief stop in the middle of bustling Tel Aviv for a visit to "Rabin Square", the site of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. This memorial -- placed at the bottom of the very steps where Rabin was killed -- is simple and modest, and a great reminder of the great cost that comes with attempts at peace.
And we ended our shorter touring day with a walk through the ancient city of "Old Jaffa", the Biblical port city which was featured most prominently in the story of Jonah from the Bible. This city is more than 4,000 years old and today carries with it a remarkable charm. As we peered over the ancient city wall, we could both see and feel the progress of time, looking over the Mediterranean into downtown Tel Aviv.
Walking back to our hotel along the beach, we were treated to a wonderful sunset over the water...
Of course, what would the day be without a final night's celebration of Chanukah. Iris led us in lighting the candles, as we stood together to sing the blessings for the last time. This was a very emotional time, as we realized we had fulfilled part of the mission of this trip in grand style...celebrating all eight nights of Chanukah in the land of Israel.
One more day to tour and enjoy, then we board our flight for our 12-hour journey back to the States. I will TRY to find the time to post about our final day of traveling. That might have to wait until we touch down back home. At this point...we get a little busy!
Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan