Journeys to Jerusalem

Spring is usually the perfect season for a trip to Israel.

However, this year 15,000 runners in the Jerusalem marathon events

"marathon", "runners", "Old City"

ran in the cold and rain as they entered the Old City through the Jaffa Gate. 

Marathon runners were not the only visitors to Jerusalem,

as tourists from all over the world have been coming in record numbers.

"J Street", "view", Old City, "steps"

I met up with one tour group called The Land and Spirit Mission sponsored by

 the Jewish Learning Institute, the educational arm of the Chabad movement.

"runner", "crowd at race", "marathon runner photo",

Near Jaffa Gate, they were able to learn about the Tower of David

and cheer on the leaders of the 10 Kilometer race.

Kosel, "men at Wailing Wall"  , "Western wall raining"

No matter the weather, visitors near the Kotel, Western Wall

"wailing wall"

 want to pose and smile for photos.

"men at wailing wall"

As one of the rabbis with the tour group spoke,

"women wailing wall"  "rain"

 some of the women climbed on chairs to see and hear.

 From the United States and from around the world, 150 participants

came to experience and learn more about Judaism and Israel.

"posed photo"

Rain, cold weather and grey skies could not dampen their spirits.

"group photo"

For some participants it was their first trip to Israel;

others had visited many times.  Jerusalem is always changing, 

 every day there is something new to see and discover.

"Mamila Mall", Old City, "east jerusalem"

One stop on the tour of the Old City was Mamilla Mall, 

once part of “no man’s land” during the years under Jordanian rule.

Now the new pedestrian shopping area has many restaurants

and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

"Muslim market", "Jews in Muslim Quarter"

It is quite a contrast to the old Arab shuk.

"view", "Dome of the Rock", "muslim", East Jerusalem"

Going through the narrow streets of the Old City,

we found one of the most incredible views …and a bit of blue sky.

"street in Old City", "Hurva Synagogue" , "tour guide'

A few minutes later outside the entrance to the Hurva Synagogue,

while listening to the story of the restoration of the historic building,

it started to hail.

"big shul", "shul door", "open door"

A perfect time to go inside to see the impressive sanctuary.

"view", ""chandelier", "women sitting"

As women listened from above in the women’s section,

"photo Hurva", "Hurva synagogue picture"

 the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch,

spoke to the group.

He began by praising the Chabad rabbis in the audience

and their organization for their important work around the world.

There is wisdom of the head, the rabbi told the group, 

but the “Jewish people also have wisdom of the heart”. 

"Runners" , "running picture"

In the cold rain and hail, it is heart, not the mind, that kept the runners going.

Throughout the centuries the longing for Jerusalem inspired many

to take the difficult journey to Jerusalem.

So how could a little bad weather possibly ruin a trip to Israel?

The Land and Spirit Mission was organized by Zev Jacobson

and his team at Israel Maven Tours.

Israel Maven, dedicated to providing a high-quality trip to Israel

for individuals, families, communities, and corporations,

ran a great program despite the lousy weather.

 It was great fun to see some old friends and former neighbors,

"bag" , "tour bag", "people in the rain"

even if it was hard to photograph them dressed for the weather conditons.

Hope to see you too in Jerusalem…soon.

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