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In Rome, Coordinator Adriana Lombardina, our guide Stefano, Father Sam Argentzia
Photo by Fenella Temmerman

Yossi expounding to the group on the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret)
Photo by Fenella Temmerman

Our chergy making the motzi (blessing the bread) at our final Shabbat meal in Jerusalem
Photo by Fenella Temmerman


Simone Cohen Scott, postred here June 1, 2012


[This is the last installment of Simone Cohen Scott's review of her trip to  Rome and Israel this January, 2012]

At last in Jerusalem, we’re in the homestretch of our Rome/Israel, Catholic/Jewish, Pilgrimage/Journey, and for me, it really IS the homestretch. I am no longer living out of my suitcase. While the others stayed at a hotel, I’ve zipped back and forth from my apartment in Old Katamon, a few minutes away.

At this season of the year in Israel, rain is needed, is prayed for, and when it comes, is a blessing. Boy, were we blessed! Beginning at Old Yafo, up the coast to Caesarea and Haifa, Elijah’s cave, the Rambam’s tomb, Akko, the top corner of the Golan where we saw the so-called ‘Gates of Hell’, (There was snow on Mt. Herman.), through Safad, Capernaum, Nazareth, Cana, Megiddo, Bet She’an, the Dead Sea and Masada, (Have I missed anywhere?), outdoor sites all, we had our umbrellas at the ready. From my window in Tiberias I’d see a sliver of sunrise over the Kinneret for just a few minutes, Then, all would be gray ---sometimes misty. And cold! I used to say ‘I’m a Canadian; I can take this’. Not any more.

The weather dictated our schedule on the last day. Our guide had intended the Archaeological Park for last, after Yad Vashem, but reversed the two so we’d finish the outdoor portion before the predicted wind and rainstorm descended. From the perspective of increasing the impact and awareness of recent Jewish history, this was more effective perhaps than the other way around. Instead of ending on the high note of the re-claiming, preserving, and re-building of our blessed city, the lasting impression was a shaking-up, facing the realities of the Shoa.

In the evenings after dinner, we would open up to each other. Unlike many groups of tourists, conversations were not superficial. This was not your ‘touchie-feelie’ inter-religious encounter group; no, we shared a deep incisiveness with each other…..akin to love. For my part, I fell in love with G-d all over again. My impression was that others did, too.

I want to share with you a personal moment of chauvinistic pride. We saw Zion Gate from the bus; that’s as close as large motor vehicles can get. But on my own I zigzagged the foot path up Mount Zion, as I’d never actually entered the Old City by that gate. Wow! There at the top, just before you enter, on the wall to the right of the Zion Gate, is a huge JNF plaque, (I mean huge), chock full, listing Canadian donors to the rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter. Of course I stood, panting from the arduous climb, reading and silently thanking those from Winnipeg, many of whom I knew. It was the icing on the cake of my spiritual adventure. This battered and besieged, wept-over city, this bone of contention to the nations, after all the layers of rebuilding, intervening destruction, Jebusites, David and Solomon, Herod, Romans, Byzantium, Templars, Crusaders, Turks, British, etc., now, finally, Canadian Jews. I’m all ferklempt.

Jerusalem, January 30th, 2012


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