Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Singles Shabbaton Part 18 (Am Yisrael CHAI!!!!)

Saturday, 1 pm

I am walking around Tiberias by myself. I am wearing a light sweater set, but feel only a little chilly. The city feels exactly like any slightly-run-down beachtown in the US. There are fancy hotels and tired hotels, plain homes and fancy homes, messy construction sites and abandoned, crumbling buildings. The old hotels are decorated with turquoise trim and tacky pictures of dolphins. There are palm trees everywhere, and dressed-up religious Jews taking Shabbat walks. A sign says “Tourism is Good for Tiberias.” In a lot next to a well-kept school, about 25 very dark, sweaty men are playing soccer, screaming and cheering at each other. The city is hilly, and from every corner is a different view of Lake Kinneret.

I lean against a railing at a scenic overlook, gazing over the water, and feel happy. Thank you, Hashem, for creating this beautiful lake. I think about my ancestors who lived here thousands of years ago, and smile at the thought that perhaps in a former life I lived in these very hills, drawing water from the lake and milking cows and teasing my brother the goatherd and seeing my father off three times a year when he left to bring sacrifices to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps I was standing right here, barefoot, some time before anyone knew the words "pogrom" or "inquisition" or "holocaust," and my mother told me to quit daydreaming and get back to my chores.

I remember a line from a book about Jewish history, suggesting that back then, the Jews were known as “the odd people who worship the sky.” I laugh. The people have come back, and we still worship the heavens. Thank heaven for this lake, this water, this Jewish state.

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