The following occurred in 1 day:
Continued from Part 1: “You will not sleep on this trip.” Never have words been truer. Going to bed at 3 am and waking at 5 am takes its toll, but adrenaline is Gods way of getting you through it. “We sleep when we die“.
Our day started at 5:30 am by taking a brisk November dip in the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked its shores and “recruited” four fishermen who became his first disciples.
After breakfast and a mid-morning seminar about living our lives to our fullest potential, we boarded our bus and headed north to Kibbutz Misgav Am on the Lebanese border close to Syria.
We met and listened to Ayea Ben Yakov, leader of Misgav Am (Hebrew: Fortress of the People). Kibbutz Misgav Am is literally on the Lebanese border overlooking a Hezbollah-controlled village from where terrorists have attacked this Kibbutz. The people of Misgav Am have taken incoming mortars, rockets, bombs, and missiles.
As Yakov spoke, we realized he stands behind his words. He has protected his land from countless attacks over the years and has personally killed 27 terrorists from where we sat and listened to him.
“This area used to be 50 percent Christian. Now it’s 3 percent. Christians are gone. It’s no longer a Christian country. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no longer a country. Just games the UN plays. If you are Jewish, these people don’t want you alive. If you are Christian, these people don’t want you alive.”
“I don’t hate anyone. If you are Muslim, Arab, whatever, I don’t hate you. You threaten me or my family, I’ll do you in. I have done so many times before and won’t hesitate to do so again. You want to kill me? I have a pocket of one-way tickets to heaven for you. No one gets us off this mountain.”
Yakov pointed a few yards behind him: “This is all Hezbollah. Lebanon does not exist as a functioning country. That’s a bullshit game they play at the United Nations. Lebanon doesn’t exist. In the north are Sunnis. Here in the south are the Shi’ites and they own this part of the world. Everything here belongs to Hezbollah. There are no Lebanese schools, no Lebanese hospitals, no Lebanese police, no Lebanese courts of law, and there’s no Lebanese flags. This is Hezbollah-land. If you are not a Shi’ite and don’t belong to the Hezbollah, you either move or they will bury you.”
Ayea Ben Yakov is not politically correct. Some squishes were taken back by his candor (during our Q&A session he would only refer to President Obama as “Hussein”). “The Iran Deal is not a deal. It’s a middle finger to Israel.”
To say I had a man crush would not be overstating my admiration for this Cleveland-born Zionist. I was practically giddy.
If you want to hear more, see the video below.
After meeting some IDF Soldiers we boarded our bus and traveled to the mountain city of Tzfat, the “City of Kabbalah” which is one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities.
This old city felt very much like the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem albeit smaller and less traveled by tourists. Being in Israel’s “mountains,” it was fairly cold. We spent the afternoon learning about the Woman’s Mikvah and were provided access to see their spa-like amenities, and then actually entered the Men’s Mikvah where we disrobed (completely) and dunked ourselves three times in the frigid spring water to “cleanse our soul.” Let the Seinfeld “But it was cold!” jokes commence.
After spending time nuzzling with some shawarma and tea to warm ourselves up and watching artisans create tallit on the loom, we boarded the bus and head for dinner where old Hasidic rabbis played some amazing rock and roll on their electronic violins while us grown men danced hard in circles in what I termed the “moisha pit.” Take middle-aged and older sleep-deprived men, add generous amounts of alcohol and we were suddenly members of the world’s oldest fraternity.
It was now time to board our bus and head for the holiest city in Judaism, Jerusalem. After a two-hour bus ride, we entered the city at the exact stroke of midnight. Many of the men welcomed the site of the King Solomon Hotel, and the idea of a bed. And then there was our group: About 30 of us met downstairs in the lobby and headed toward the Old City and ultimately the Kotel (Western Wall).
We were, of course, aware of the current wave of attacks by Palestinians terrorists on Jews. We walked together, aware, strong, and proud.
At 1 am we went through metal detectors and entered the Kotel. This was the site of the Holiest of Holies. Even at the early hour, there were people praying.My brothers and I were last in Israel together in 1988 with our Father. The emotion of this place is beyond words. We felt our late Father with us. We cried and held each other. It was a moment I will never forget.
We then entered a tunnel along the wall and sat in a circle with the group of men and discussed where we were: The remaining wall of the First Temple, which survived Jerusalem being destroyed and rebuilt nine times. And through it all, one symbol remained intact: the Western Wall. On the other side of this wall was the Muslim Quarter where the gold-leafed Dome of the Rock sits on the site where the Ten Commandments were stored. Jewish tradition teaches that all of creation began on this site. Even in the Muslim Quarter, they pray toward Mecca. Jews worldwide pray toward Jerusalem.
We walked back through the old city and bypassed a slight skirmish but felt safe with IDF and the Israeli army everywhere, even at 3 am.
As we went to sleep we realized we did more in 22 hours than many do in a week … and we had to get up in two hours to continue our adventures!
Continued on Part 3.
Ayea Ben Yakov at Misgav Am: Starts at 1:30m (recorded earlier this year, but essentially same speech. Hard to see him, but worth listening).