Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Brothers of Israel, Part 2

 

The following occurred in 1 day:

Continued from Part 1: “You will not sleep on this trip.” Never have words been more true. Going to bed around 3am and waking at 5am takes it’s toll, but adrenaline is Gods way of getting you through it. “We sleep when we die“.

2015-11-16 20.37.07-1
Sunrise in Tiberias after our dawn swim in the Sea of Galilee

Our day started at 5:30 am by taking a brisk November dip in the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee has changed comparatively little since Jesus walked its shores and “recruited” four fishermen who became his first disciples.

After breakfast and a mid-morning seminar about living our lives to our fullest potential, we boarded our bus and headed north to Kibbutz Misgav Am on the Lebanese border close to Syria.

Yakov
“No one gets us off this mountain.” -Ayea Ben Yakov

We met and listened to Ayea Ben Yakov, leader of Misgav Am (Hebrew: Fortress of the People). Kibbutz Misgav Am is literally on the Lebanese border overlooking a Hezbollah controlled village from where terrorists have attacked this Kibbutz. The people of Misgav Am have taken incoming mortars, rockets, bombs and missiles.

As Yakov spoke, we realized he stands behind his words. He has protected his land from countless attacks over the years and has personally killed 27 terrorists from where we sat and listened to him. 

Hezbollah controlled Lebanon, just 50 miles from Demascus

AttackYakov pointed a few yards behind him: “This is all Hezbollah. Lebanon does not exist as a functioning country. That’s a [COC] game they play at the United Nations. Lebanon doesn’t exist. In the north are Sunnis. Here in the south are the Shi’ites and they own this part of the world. Everything here belongs to Hezbollah. There are no Lebanese schools, no Lebanese hospitals, no Lebanese police, no Lebanese courts of law, and there’s no Lebanese flags. This is Hezbollah-land. If you are not a Shi’ite and don’t belong to the Hezbollah, you either move or they will bury you.”

“This area used to be 50 percent Christian. Now it’s 3 percent. Christians are gone. It’s no longer a Christian country. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no longer a country. Just games the UN plays. If you are Jewish, these people don’t want you alive. If you are Christian, these people don’t want you alive.”

“I don’t hate anyone. If you are Muslim, Arab, whatever, I don’t hate you. You threaten me or my family, I’ll do you in. I have done so many times before and won’t hesitate to do so again. You want to kill me? I have a pocket of one way tickets to heaven for you. No one gets us off this mountain.”

Ayea Ben Yakov is not politically correct. Some squishes were taken back by his candor (during our Q&A session he would only refer to President Obama as “Hussein”). “The Iran Deal is not a deal. It’s a middle finger to Israel.”

To say I had a man crush would not be overstating my admiration for this Cleveland-born Zionist. I was practically giddy. If you want to hear more, see the video below.

After meeting some IDF Soldiers we boarded our bus and traveled to the mountain city of Tzfat, the “City of Kabbalah” which is one of Judaism’s Four Holy Cities. sfatThis old city felt very much like the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem albeit smaller and less traveled by tourists. Being in Israel’s “mountains,” it was fairly cold. Mikvah.0We spent the afternoon learning about the Woman’s Mikvah and were provided access to see their spa-like amenities, and then actually entered the Men’s Mikvah where we disrobed (completely) and dunked ourselves three times in the frigid spring water to “cleanse our soul.” Let the Seinfeld “But it was cold!” jokes commence.

After spending time nuzzling with some shawarma and tea to warm ourselves up and watching artisans create tallit on the loom, we boarded the bus and head for dinner where old Hasidic rabbis played some amazing rock and roll on their electronic violins while us grown men danced hard in circles in what I termed the “moisha pit.” Take middle-aged and older sleep-deprived men, add generous amounts of alcohol and we were suddenly members of the world’s oldest fraternity.

It was now time to board our bus and head for the holiest city in Judaism, Jerusalem. After a two-hour bus ride we entered the city at the exact stroke of midnight. Many of the men welcomed the site of the King Solomon Hotel, and the idea of a bed. And then there was our group: About 30 of us met downstairs in the lobby and headed toward the Old City and ultimately the Kotel (Western Wall).

We were of course aware of the current wave of attacks by Palestinians terrorists on Jews. We walked together, aware, strong, and proud.

At 1 am we went through metal detectors and entered the Kotel. This was the site of the Holiest of Holies. Even at the early hour there were people praying. 2015-11-17 15.34.26My brothers and I were last in Israel together in 1988 with our Father. The emotion of this place is beyond words. We felt our late Father with us. We cried and held each other. It was a moment I will never forget.

Brothers at the Wall
Three brothers

We then entered a tunnel along the wall and sat in circle with the group of men and discussed where we were: The remaining wall of the First Temple, which survived Jerusalem being destroyed and rebuilt nine times. And through it all, one symbol remained intact: the Western Wall. On the other side of this wall was the Muslim Quarter where the gold-leafed Dome of the Rock sits on the site where the Ten Commandments were stored. Jewish tradition teaches that all of creation began on this site. Even in the Muslim Quarter they pray toward Mecca. Jews worldwide pray toward Jerusalem.

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From our base in Jerusalem (taken later that morning), the AISH building.

We walked back through the old city and bypassed a slight skirmish but felt safe with IDF and the Israeli army everywhere, even at 3 am.2015-11-21 09.52.12As we went to sleep we realized we did more in 22 hours than many do in a week … and we had to get up in two hours to continue our adventures!

Continued on Part 3.

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Ayea Ben Yakov at Misgav Am: Starts at 1:30m (recorded earlier this year, but essentially same speech. Hard to see him, but worth listening).

There are 18 comments.

  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Lebanon does not exist.” Wow, now there’s a bold claim I’d like see Claire or Annika wrestle with. Or perhaps one of our several Israeli members. Thanks.

    • #1
    • December 1, 2015, at 2:39 PM PST
    • Like
  2. RightAngles Member

    Like.

    • #2
    • December 1, 2015, at 2:48 PM PST
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  3. Tedley Member

    You had a great vantage point for your picture of the Wall with the Dome behind it. Easy to forget how close everything is throughout Jerusalem.

    • #3
    • December 1, 2015, at 3:22 PM PST
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  4. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman

    Aaron Miller:“Lebanon does not exist.” Wow, now there’s a bold claim I’d like see Claire or Annika wrestle with. Or perhaps one of our several Israeli members. Thanks.

    As I said, he wasn’t politically correct. People in Beirut would probably argue with that, but he is dealing with Southern Lebanon which is owned and run by Iranian backed Hezbollah, where there is no Lebanese infrastructure.

    • #4
    • December 1, 2015, at 3:24 PM PST
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  5. PHCheese Member

    I feel like I was along on the trip. Great post. Which brother are you in the picture?

    • #5
    • December 1, 2015, at 3:31 PM PST
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  6. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman

    PHCheese:I feel like I was along on the trip. Greatpost. Which brother are you in the picture?

    Thanks, I got the height in my family.

    • #6
    • December 1, 2015, at 3:43 PM PST
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  7. RightAngles Member

    David Sussman:

    PHCheese:I feel like I was along on the trip. Greatpost. Which brother are you in the picture?

    Thanks, I got the height in my family.

    That is a beautiful picture!

    • #7
    • December 1, 2015, at 3:57 PM PST
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  8. Kay of MT Member

    Thank you for sharing.

    • #8
    • December 1, 2015, at 5:07 PM PST
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  9. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I truly enjoyed the read, Sussman.

    David Sussman: Some squishes were taken back by his candor

    I can’t imagine too many “squishes” being There.

    • #9
    • December 1, 2015, at 5:50 PM PST
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  10. Boss Mongo Member

    Great post(s). I’m glad for you that you made this journey.

    By the way, this whole “sea to shining sea” thing we’ve got going on: can we resolve that this is our mountain?

    • #10
    • December 1, 2015, at 6:24 PM PST
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  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Both pieces have been well worth reading, David.

    • #11
    • December 1, 2015, at 6:37 PM PST
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  12. Melissa Praemonitus Inactive

    One day? I certainly hope you will bring pictures and more stories to the next California meetup!

    • #12
    • December 1, 2015, at 7:39 PM PST
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  13. EThompson Inactive

    I quietly pressed a little note into the Wailing Wall; I felt so privileged to be there.

    • #13
    • December 2, 2015, at 3:09 PM PST
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  14. Front Seat Cat Member

    I stayed for a time with my best friend when we left Pgh. to move to Md. I had a couple more months of classes so my aunt let me live with them. They were from Lebanon and Christian. Kathy’s mom was head chef at a local Lebanese restaurant – my intro to lamb kabobs, kibbeh, tabbouleh, salad with lemon powder and cucumber, stuffed grape leaves, and baklava. I remember my friend’s mom weeping (back in 1973-1974) because Lebanon was being bombed. They couldn’t reach their relatives. It’s been a long sad road for the Middle East. The strong cedars of Lebanon – my heart goes out to this region – too much pain – thanks for a riveting story and pictures – glad you made the trek with your family.

    • #14
    • December 2, 2015, at 6:02 PM PST
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  15. EThompson Inactive

    Ayea Ben Yakov is not politically correct. Some squishes were taken back by his candor (during our Q&A session he would only refer to President Obama as “Hussein”). “The Iran Deal is not a deal. It’s a middle finger to Israel.”

    Sad to say I have yet to meet my political doppelganger.

    • #15
    • December 2, 2015, at 6:20 PM PST
    • Like
  16. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman

    EThompson:

    Ayea Ben Yakov is not politically correct. Some squishes were taken back by his candor (during our Q&A session he would only refer to President Obama as “Hussein”). “The Iran Deal is not a deal. It’s a middle finger to Israel.”

    Sad to say I have yet to meet my political doppelganger.

    It took a lot of restraint for me not to bear hug him.

    • #16
    • December 2, 2015, at 7:16 PM PST
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  17. MarciN Member

    Thank you for this vivid post. It was a joy to read.

    I used to read Michael Totten’s blog when it was connected to the Wall Street Journal. He photographed his way through Israel and Lebanon. He wrote that Lebanon was completely in the hands of Hezbollah, and that was around 2005. Lebanon is a tragedy. Totten said that at one time, Beirut was the most sophisticated worldly city in the Middle East.

    • #17
    • December 2, 2015, at 11:02 PM PST
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  18. RightAngles Member

    MarciN: Lebanon is a tragedy. Totten said that at one time, Beirut was the most sophisticated worldly city in the Middle East.

    I think they once called it “The Paris of the Middle East,” and French was actually the language spoken by many.

    • #18
    • December 3, 2015, at 6:58 AM PST
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