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Sunday, September 30, 2012

LAND OF MIRACLES

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I am filled with anticipation of MIRACLES. Soon, I will be again standing on the stone streets of Old City Jerusalem at the Jaffa Gate. While at first glance it is but a very old place of commerce crowded with traffic and loads of international tourists, a deeper look reveals much more. There is an elderly couple from Ukraine fulfilling a lifelong dream of a religious pilgrimage to the Holy City. Four young Jewish college students from Indiana laugh and playfully jostle one another as they take in the sights on their “Birthright Israel” trip. A young Palestinian Arab works hard to entice passing people into his father’s store filled with colorful scarves. A no-nonsense pair of Israeli solders stand casually to the side, chatting, relaxed, but automatic weapons at ready and eyes moving across the crowd. Religious pilgrims, students, children playing, honking taxis, moneychangers, deliverymen; its all there.

The very existence of a peaceful afternoon in a city where modern world/ancient world, worldwide religions, deeply imbedded prejudices and hatreds, political opponents and a cornucopia of ethnicities collide is a miracle. And perhaps, this miracle offers us all a teachable moment; even when differences collide, if self-interest motivations of those present are strong enough to not want to risk the loss of the opportunity that moment holds, they put aside their differences and focus on the reward.

Israel has many miraculous lessons for us all.

I have seen a nation reborn from the ashes of the Holocaust as Jews gathered from around the world after a 2,000-year Diaspora. I have seen the miracle of “premies” in Assaf Harofeh Hospital where premature babies who would die in any other place are nursed through three wards and returned to their parents healthy and strong. Assaf Harofeh is a center of caring in a region filled with deep prejudices where no concern is given to the ethnic or religious background of the patients or their families. Miraculous. I have seen the deserts bloom with the help of amazingly simple but ingenious technology, providing needed water to dry soil, producing some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the world. I have seen the miracle of sprawling banana plantations, huge groves of fruit trees and abundant wineries on the rocky hills of Galilee.

And what does all of this teach us? Miracles DO happen, and we can be a part of them if we choose.

So, as I wait for my flight, I think of the miraculous place that awaits me and I pray for a miracle, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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