December 28, 2017

The Wadi Rum camp where we stayed certainly appeared to be grand glamping, that is glamorous camping, which is a thing now. However... when we arrived we were told that we were to be driven from the bus drop offs point to our tents ― and to take out a change of clothing because we had to leave our suitcases in the bus. This was a sign that we were not exactly glamping. Now I’ve been with groups who would’ve heard that little bit of news and staged an insurrection right there by the headlights of the pickup trucks that were to take us to our site. But our band of travelers shrugged ― and opened their suitcases. We clambered onto benches in the open pick up trucks and journeyed 10 minutes in pitch darkness. 

We arrived at a surreal landscape: surrounded by towering cliffs and mountains made of sandstone and granite, all lit up like another planet, another world. Not surprisingly, Wadi Rum was the location for otherworldly films, including Prometheus, The Martian, Indiana Jones and the Tem...

December 27, 2017

Any attempt to describe Petra is doomed to failure. It is a spectacular monument to an ancient civilization’s reverence for their dead. It is a testament to ingenuity and architectural sophistication. It is a beautiful place that is still being excavated by a variety of archeological teams from all over the world.

Petra is the kind of place that may be called, without exaggeration, awesome. That it is considered one of the seven wonders of the world, along with Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal, is reasonable and right. Even if I were to send you photos (which I will do), they can’t capture the scale, the stark beauty, and then mystery of the place. In so many ways, the spiritual dimensions of the place continue to emanate from every carved tomb, every cave, every corner. I’ve been there three times, and Petra still knocks me out. 

I think all of our trip participants were wowed by their time in the ancient city. Even the most seasoned adventurers on this trip were moved by what they saw. T...

December 23, 2017

For a nice Jewish boy like me, born 6 years after Israel became a state, it's more than a bit weird to say that yesterday I flew into Amman, Jordan. I never imagined such a thing could happen in my life! How is it possible that I am in bus driving around the capital of a nation that was once an implacable foe of my people? But then I pause and I realize: this is what peace looks like. So maybe its not entirely comfortable; so what? The point is, and this is important to say: peace can happen. As a person increasingly disheartened by what feels like failing political systems at home and abroad, this driving around Amman is truly a tonic.

Today has been a tour of some of the many ancient ruins in Amman. Not exciting, but it's what one does. Amman isn't a tourist site for Westerners. We've seen some Moslems visiting from various places, but that's about all. 

There are some beautiful, palatial homes In Amman, but mostly the city is a generic Arab town, thickly populated and unremarkable. Bu...

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Temple Beth Avodah, a member of the reform movement, is led by Rabbi Keith Stern.  Learn more about our soulful services, including Jazz Shabbat, Early Learning Center's Jewish preschool, truly unique Religious School experience, vibrant Men's and Women's groups, meaningful adult learning and so much more! All are welcome here.TBA’s doors are open to all. We welcome participation of people of all races, ethnic identities, gender identities, sexual orientations, physical and mental abilities, ages, and religious backgrounds.

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