The first full day in Israel was just that. A full day.
The day began with rafting down the Jordan River (sorry, no pictures, couldn't risk getting the camera wet), followed by a nature hike in the Golan Heights, by the Jordan. Hopefully, the pictures from the hike will offer a sense of the incredible beauty of northern Israel. As the area that provides two-thirds of the nation's fresh water, it is an incredibly lush part of the country. And even though I'm the "indoorsey" type, I feel like more than a visitor---like I was always meant to be here.
After our time at the Jordan, we went to Sfadt (pronounced Tza-fat, with short a's). Sfadt is renowned for its mystical history as the origin place of Madonna-made-famous Kabballah. It also houses a large orthodox Jewish community and a community of Jewish artists---two communities that don't always coexist well together.
The most well-known art in Sfadt, other than its candles, is its microcaligraphy art. In these paintings, entire sections of the Bible are inscribed into watercolors paintings of biblical scenes as the lines of the pictures.
I knew I desperately wanted one of these paintings showing the biblical scene of Jacob wrestling the Angel, but I didn't anticipate I would find one. I walked into one gallery and the artist/owner said, "I see your name tag. What is your hebrew name?"
I told him and he said, "I have a painting of your biblical namesake. Here, let me show you."
He pulled open a drawer and took out an amazing pience of art. "Look," he said, pointing to the top corner, "Your namesake, with his brothers."
But then I looked at the bottom and there, in the lower right hand corner, was a picture of Jacob wrestling the Angel.
And as I looked closely at the lines that made up Jacob I saw a very familiar part of the Torah.
The part I read sixteen years earlier.
My parsha. My bar mitzvah Torah portion.
Admittedly, I'm not the most religious Jew, but that rite of passage still holds a special place in my heart.
And now, sitting in front of me was a beautiful painting with my parsha and my namesake.
I had to have it.
For the first time in a long time, price really was no object.
And I still got a pretty good deal.
So now I have a cardboard cylinder that both reminds me of a fantastic city and allows me to display two important parts of myself.
Money very well spent.
Some shots of the nature hike in the Jordan River, by the Golan Heights...
An old synagogue in Sfadt...
My infamous painting...
More pictures from Sfadt...