Spring is usually the perfect season for a trip to Israel.
However, this year 15,000 runners in the Jerusalem marathon events
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.
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.
Near Jaffa Gate, they were able to learn about the Tower of David
and cheer on the leaders of the 10 Kilometer race.
No matter the weather, visitors near the Kotel, Western Wall
want to pose and smile for photos.
As one of the rabbis with the tour group spoke,
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.
Rain, cold weather and grey skies could not dampen their spirits.
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.
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.
It is quite a contrast to the old Arab shuk.
Going through the narrow streets of the Old City,
we found one of the most incredible views …and a bit of blue sky.
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.
A perfect time to go inside to see the impressive sanctuary.
As women listened from above in the women’s section,
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”.
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,
even if it was hard to photograph them dressed for the weather conditons.
Hope to see you too in Jerusalem…soon.