Good afternoon from Haifa where it is breezy and sunny!
We are overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and had a short tour this morning which was wonderful and had the opportunity to learn about the origins of Haifa and talked with our guide about how Haifa is really the model for a co-existent city. Haifa is home to many people -- included among them: Jews, Christians, Moslems and Bahai. The gold dome of the Bahai Temple here in Haifa is a landmark that can be seen throughout the area, and the 19 terraces of gardens that lead up to the sanctuary are absolutely magnificent. We spent some time in the German Colony and viewed its red roofs and talked about the early German settlers to Haifa beginning in 1869. The combination of the mountain on one side and the sea on the other side make Haifa one of the most beautiful places in the world. But what's more is the feeling of many people of different religions and cultures living side by side in harmony and peace.
The students are now heading back to their host families where they will prepare for Shabbat, and we will meet at one of the two local Reform synagogues for Kabbalat Shabbat. The host families are taking great care of our kids...they arrived at host homes last night with signs that said: "Welcome Home" last night! The students report that the host parents cooked them a wonderful breakfast, brought them extra pillows to make sure that they were comfortable and have generally been fussing over them "just like our own parents do at home."
Soon it will be Shabbat, and with the setting of the sun, things do slow down a bit -- even in the predominantly secular city of Haifa. We will celebrate Shabbat together in gratitude and we will pray for peace in Israel and throughout the world. We are so fortunate to be here. I cannot even begin to express just how thankful I am to Temple Beth Avodah's leadership and to CJP for making this dream a reality. Hopefully, the connections that are made here will be meaningful and long lasting. It is my personal prayer that these connections between our children will enrich and transform them -- now and always.