Thursday, January 12, 2012

News from Tel Aviv, Thursday, 12 January 2012

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv
Gutman Mosaics in the Peace Tower
This has been a very full day for the Interfaith Clergy group.  We left our hotel at 8.00 a.m. to make a short trip over to the Peace Tower where there are some wonderful mosaics including work by Nahum Gutman depicting four stages in the development of the city of Tel Aviv.  Then we walked over to Independence Hall where the State of Israel was declared on 14 May 1948.  Unlike similar sites in the United States and Canada, Israel's Independence Hall exudes the laid-back atmosphere of Israel where style and lack of style seem to go hand in hand.

Philip & Richard at Caesarea
From Independence Hall we drove for about an hour north to Caesarea Maritima, the Roman provincial headquarters during the Roman occupation/administration of Palestine.  The city was built by Herod on the shores of the Mediterranean and include other remains of the various periods of the city's history from the Roman imperial period to the Ottoman era.  Caesarea is also the location of Peter's famous visit to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, whose acceptance of Jesus would contribute to the early debate about how and whether Gentiles could be integrated into the nascent Christian movement.

We then travelled northeast to one of Israel's research and development centres in Yokne'am where we were given an introduction to the work of a medical technology firm, Given Imaging.  Given's work has the potential to make endoscopic examinations more easily and comfortably available by means of a pill-sized camera that broadcasts its transit of the gastrointestinal system to a small belt-pack wore by the patient.  With the debates in Canada regarding how to deliver healthcare to an aging population, this company's work has considerable promise.

From Yokne'am we travelled in deteriorating weather conditions to Mount Carmel.  At the summit of Mount Carmel is a Carmelite monastery from which it is possible to get a panoramic view of a vast part of Israel --- if it is not pouring with rain!

Rabbi Edgar Nof
We then travelled to the village of Usfiya, a Druze village in the Carmel hills.  The Druze, a group which split from Islam in the eleventh century and maintaining secrecy regarding many of its religious views, has a long history of participating in the creation of modern Israel.  We were greeted by Rabbi Edgar Nof from Or Kodesh, a Reform congregation in Haifa, who has been very active in bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims for mutual study and action.  Mr Mansour, a member of the Druze community, gave us a brief overview of the Druze community.  All this food for the mind was followed by a wonderful meal prepared by our hostess who, like so many women in our common Jewish and Christian history, have offered so much but whose names have not been recorded!

Tomorrow we travel to Jerusalem.

No comments: