Professor Gair's Travels

ISRAEL 2

Why I Love Israel

One of my favorite places to visit is Israel.  With its serene Negev and Judean Desert to its bustling coastal city of Tel Aviv to its hilly, ancient and biblical Jerusalem it is a land that enchants me.  I never tire of the excitement of the coastal city Eilat where the pristine beaches overlook the Red Sea and one can see Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia from the beach.  A thrill and a chill goes through my body as I approach the Western Wall of King Solomn's Temple, also known as the Wailing Wall or Temple Mount.  That is the holiest place on the earth for a Jew and the feeling of touching the wall, kissing it and praying defies words.  The lifeless desert whispers to you as you listen to the silence.  You can hear the sages of ancient times as they call to you from the distant past.  The majesty of Masada is matched only by the calmness of the Dead Sea and its rejuvenating salt minerals.  The shores of the Kinneret or as most people call it, the Sea of Gallilee, is where one can see the ancient biblical city of Tiberias, the religious city of Tzefat and the rolling valleys of the Golan Heights.  The seaside city of Nahariyya is where one can enjoy the evening with a glass of wine and watch the shores of the Medeterranean Sea splash up against the rocks and enjoy a nice summer breeze.  The incredible majesty of the Ramon Crater in the tiny town of Mitzpe Ramon offers breathtaking views from the rim of the world's largest natural crater.  One can only imagine the serenety of living in the midst of the desert.  At night one can sit on the rim of the crater, looking out into the vast emptiness that emits a cool desert night breeze.  One can listen carefully at those times and hear the silence and echoes of sounds as they bounce off the canyon walls and hear the faint voices of the biblical sages and characters call to us from the centuries long ago.  In the daytime the heat will be oppressive but not enough to discourage one from climbing the ruins of Ein Avdat or hiking back into the canyon until one reaches the waterfalls and stream, a virtual oasis.  It is these times that if one concentrates enough and listens to the silence one can almost feel the presence of a higher power.  Only a higher power could create such beauty hidden in such a barren and desolate setting.  A drive down into the crater is a wonderful way to relax and see rare sites such as the colored sand pit and the occassional Ibex crossing the road with its baby Ibex's faithfully following along.  You stop and let them go, after all this is their home and you are just an intruder, a passerby.  I could go on and on talking about why I love the country as I do.  The hospitality of my friend Mordechai and Noah Cohen and their chidren always makes me feel like I am home and with family in a way.  I always look forward to Shabbat when I am there, especially when I spend it with them.  Shabbat takes on a new feeling when you are among all fellow Jews, all observing the sacred day, all rushing home in a wonderful frenzy on Friday to prepare for the Sabbath.  The peace of seeing all the people around you spending their Shabbat relaxing, enjoying each other's company, praying and seeing that atmosphere pervade everything says to you that Shabbat is indeed special here.  It is a feeling one cannot fully describe nor experience any other place on this earth.   I think that had life lead me there as a young man I might never have come back here.  Usually upon arrival I like to make a beeline to the Western Wall and while there pay my respects to the grave of Oscar Schindler.  And the most fulfilling of all is when I visit Yad Vashem.  Yes Yad Vashem.  It's Israel's memorial to the Holocaust.  It's Israel's place of scholarship, study, research, and learning about that dark period in history.  It is where memory is key, remembrance is vital and education is the link it creates with the past.  It is the place where all Jews from everywhere can come and collectively know that we are now a strong nation, a sovereign nation, a nation with a heritage and past that binds us together as one.  It is a place where there is no doubt about the mission and the importance of building the future by learning about the past.  It is a place where six million is no longer just a number.  It is a place where each number is a person, a fellow human being who paid for their crime of being born a Jew with their very life.  Fittingly, Yad Vashem sits on the top of the Mount of Remebrance, next to Har Hertzel, the cemetery where Israel's fallen leaders and heroes and heroines rest for eternity in a land where a Jew can be a Jew and not look over his shoulder in fear.  So you can readily see why I never tire of my return to Israel.  I never tire at the idea of volunteering to be a temporary worker in the Israeli Defense Forces with Volunteers for Israel.  The two weeks volunteering in the army I spend when I am there leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction knowing that somehow in my own small way I have done my part to help Israel to survive and flourish and always stand as a beacon of freedom to every Jew on the face of this earth.  Please enjoy my small sampling of pictures.  There is not a web site large enough for all my pctures and videos.

ISRAEL

Shalom,

Rich Gair 

My Travels in Israel (My favorite place on earth.)


Israeli National Anthem Hatikva (The Hope)

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My Other Photo Galleries

Samuel Bak's Holocaust Art

My Many Visits To Israel (With more to come!)

My Travels in Germany

My Travels in Poland

My Travels in the Czech Republic (Prague, Lidice, Terezin)

My Travels in Budapest

My Travels in Austria (Mauthausen Concentration Camp)

Summer of 2013 Germany, Poland, Former Major Ghettoes, Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor Camps (Coming Soon)

© RICHARD A. GAIR, MA 2013, rich@professorgair.com