Tuesday, December 12, 2017

An Anniversary Trip to Tiveria: A Photoblog With Commentary

One of the things I love about living in Israel is that, even when we have just a few days to get away, every place in Israel is close enough.

For our wedding anniversary, my husband and I always pick someplace in Israel we want to explore. This year, it was Tiveria (Tiberias).

Along with Jerusalem, Tzfat and Hevron, Tiveria is considered one of Israel's Four Holy Cities.

We started at the tomb of Yitro (Jethro), the father-in-law of Moses. The site is a Druze holy site and we had a lot to learn about how to behave in such a place. The Druzim call him Nabi Shueib - the Prophet Shueib.
The rules are strictly enforced. DH was wearing a kippah and a short-sleeve shirt. He was told he'd have to cover his arms and his head.  We were also required to remove our shoes which, as Jews, was a little weird.

This might be the first time he ever wore a garment with Arabic writing on it.
This is my husband in his borrowed long-sleeve shirt and cap.
I, on the other hand, was deemed to be dressed "b'seder". What a turnabout! The man was asked to cover up, not the woman.
The plaza area was beautifully tiled and very clean. Does anyone know what this flag represents?
We weren't allowed to take any pictures of the inside room where the tomb was (and there was a guard to make sure we didn't. But while at the tomb, one of the things I prayed for was that we should again experience peaceful relations between Jews and the Nations, like there was between Moshe and Yitro.
We didn't pick the best day to visit Kever Rambam. There were Arab workers doing renovations all over the site.

Walking up to the tomb, the steps are flanked with 14 pillars, representing the 14 sections of Rambam's Mishneh Torah
The renovations night have hurt business for the gift shop owner. But if you want a giant portrait of Maimonides, this is the place to be.
Shockingly, there is no mechitza (partition) separating the men and the women at the Tomb of Maimonides. It may be the last holy place in Israel where men and women are in the same room.

The holy woman sitting on the bench gave out Books of Psalms to other women, most of whom were secular-looking. I got the impression she spent hours at the site, saying Tehillim herself and also being helpful to others.

I'm not sure what this cage structure is.  There's a prayer here that is intended to be said at Rambam's grave.
My husband jokes that Rambam lived from 1135 to 1204 - and what he did with those 29 minutes was truly exceptional!
There were Arab workers all over the site today. It wasn't so conducive to prayerful intentionality.
This is probably an Only in Israel sign. It asks people not to light candles because they are a fire hazard (rough translation).
There are a few other graves nearby. This one says it contains a collection of bones.
When you leave the area of Rambam's tomb, there's this hand washing station that reminds me of the one at the Kotel.
The grave of the Tanna Yochanan ben Zakkai who was a major contributor to the Mishnah
The grave of  the SheLah Hakadosh, best known for his prayer that parents recite on behalf of their children.
We didn't just pray. We also ate amazing Chinese food (okay, three times in 48 hours) at Pagoda, on the bank of the Kinneret.
This was the view from our table at Pagoda. Imagine looking at this sky over the Kinneret while munching on the best egg rolls in Israel.
Another view of the Kinneret, this time from the road.
We've passed this sign for the tomb of Rachel, wife of Rabbi Akiva, a bunch of times, but never stopped until today.
This is the building that houses the grave of Rachel, daughter of Kalba Savoua and wife of Rabbi Akiva. She sacrificed so much to support her husband becoming THE Rabbi Akiva.
Rabbi Akiva famously said to his students who didn't understand Rachel's contribution "Sheli v'shelachem, shelah - What's mine and what's yours (meaning their merit for Torah study) is hers."
More of Rabbi Akiva's praise for his wife.
When I stepped into the women's side, I could see that the place was in disrepair.
The kever of Rachel itself, from the women's side.
Tefillat Rachel (Rachel's prayer) for salvation from all manner of problems.
The building that houses her tomb overlooks the Kinneret.

I was both very touched by the holiness of this site and also really saddened by the state of disrepair of the building so I was moved to make a donation. The caretaker was so grateful, he bestowed this stash on us, even though we hadn't intended to buy anything.
On the way home, we drove through Kibbutz Degania, which I always, mistakenly, think of as Kibbutz Gan Dafna from the movie Exodus. Along the road are hundreds of banana trees. We've never been this close to a banana tree and we wondered about the purple flower that hangs upside down, exactly opposite the way the bananas grow.

And there you have it. The highlights of our 48 anniversary hours, spent in Tiveria.

There was also a pool. And a very nice hotel. But truly, if you're still reading this, you got the highlights.

Trust me.

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