In August 2022, we traveled to Israel to attend cousin Jacob’s bar Mitzvah at the Kotel. We turned this into a 2-week trip and saw and did many wonderful things while there.
Monday Aug 8
Travel to Israel
Tuesday Aug 9
Catch up on sleep
Walk to windmill park
Mamila mall – where we bump into Weismans.
Dinner at a steakhouse
Wednesday Aug 10
Went into old city Mea Shearin St ultra orthodox area to get tefillin boxes replaced
Had filafel in old city
Went to wall and davened mincha
Went back to hotel
Went to Ben Yehuda had shawarma and asado
Thursday August 11
Bar Mitzvah at Kotel
March from Dung Gate to Kotel
Pray at 2nd table
Go back to hotel for brunch
Trip toward Chevron
Stopped at Kever Rachel
Stopped at 2nd highest peak in Israel overlooking Arab and Israeli settlements
Went to Machpela
Went to IDF base bbq party with soldiers
Stopped at Avraham Avinu Synagogue. Built by Rabbi Malkiel Ashkenazi in 1540, the domed structure was a center of the local community and a major center for the study of Kabalah.
The story is well known. The year was 1619, the location, Hebron:
A wondrous event on Yom Kippur, know that in Hebron there aren’t always ten for public prayer, only on Shabbat and holy days, when villagers gather there and pray with ten and more. But all the residents of Hebron are pious.
“And it was on the eve of Yom Kippur, and there were only nine men, and they waited for the villagers to arrive, but not even one came, because they had all gone to Jerusalem, which is a quarter of a day’s walk. And they were greatly saddened that on Yom Kippur they would pray individually and they wept much, and the sun was setting and daylight was disappearing.
And they lifted their eyes and here was an elderly man, in the distance, and they were overjoyed to see him. And when he arrived they offered him a final meal, but he blessed them and said that he had eaten on the way. And they worshipped on the holy day and honored him greatly.
And the next night they began discussions, because all of them wanted to host the guest in his home. And they compromised and conducted a draw, and the prayer leader (Chazan) was selected, he was a holy man who had wondrous dreams and night visions. And the Chazan led the guest to his home, with the guest walking behind him. And when he arrived at his home, the Chazan turned to honor the guest, that he should enter first, and he saw that the guest was gone.
And they searched the entire courtyard, but didn’t find him, and all were greatly saddened, thinking that the guest had left already that night, and did not want to enjoy anything from them. And that night the old man appeared before the Chazan in a dream and told him that he was Avraham Avinu, who had come to complete the minyon because he had seen that they were so upset about having to pray individually. And they were very happy and blessed the Great G-d, who had done wondrous things, Amen, May it be His Will.”
From then on, the synagogue was known as the Avraham Avinu synagogue.
When Jews returned to Hebron following the 1967 Six Day War, the ancient synagogue was gone. A sheep sty and public bathroom occupied the place where the shul had stood for over 400 years. Due to the dedication and determination of one man, the late Professor Ben Tzion Tavgar the area was eventually cleaned out and the synagogue rebuilt.
Friday August 12
Southern Wall and Tunnel Tour
Lunch at Holy Cafe
Took wrong turn and ended up deep in Arab Shuk on crazy Friday afternoon. Ended up emerging via Damascus Gate despite warnings to stay away.
Finally caught cab back to hotel
Friday night davening and dinner at hotel
Saturday August 13
Walked to Sephardic Shul in old city for Shabbat services bar mitzvah continued
Parsha Vaetchanan at Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue
4 Sephardi shuls in one.
According to legend, the Yochanan ben Zakai Synagogue (Hebrew: בית הכנסת יוחנן בן זכאי), also known as Kahal Kadosh Gadol, is believed to stand on the spot of the Beit Midrash of the tanna Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai, who established the Sanhedrin in Yavneh after the destruction of the Second Temple. The current building was constructed at the beginning of the 17th century. It was the largest Sephardic shul in Jerusalem. Since the end of the 19th century, it has served as the site of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi’s installation.
Located in the old Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, it suffered the same fate as most of the synagogues in the area during the 19 year Jordanian rule after 1948. It has been fully refurbished since Israel gained control of the Old City during the Six-Day War. This work was initiated by Rabbi Meir Yehuda Getz, Rabbi of the Western Wall,
Unlike most synagogues, the Yochanan Ben Zakai Synagogue contains two Holy Arks – one for the Torah scrolls and one for other holy books. Other unique features include the oil jar and Shofar that are kept on a glass shelf by the southern wall’s window. Tradition held that these were ancient relicts of the Temple, which could only be used to herald the arrival of the Messiah and in his subsequent anointing ceremony, while a 19th century account by Abraham Moses Luncz implies that the oil jug’s importance was connected to the ritual of Shituf Mevo’ot. The original relicts disappeared following the destruction of the synagogue in 1948 and were replaced with the modern iterations seen today.
Sunday August 14
Travel to Teveria
Rabbi Meir Baal HaNes
Travel to Meron
Visit Kever Rashbi Shimon Bar Yochai
Travel to Tzvat
Toured old city of Tzvat
Saw Yitzhak Luria’s home (Holy Ari)
Monday August 15
Visit Machene Yehuda Shuk
Tuesday Aug 16
Machene Yehuda Shuk
Wednesday Aug 17
Meet up with cousin Dottie
Model of old City
Dead See Scrolls
In town shopping Barbara Shaw
Stopped in local coffee house
Went to Ben Yehuda and had shawarma and asado
Thursday August 18
Drive North along Mediterranean
Tour Rosh Hanikra sea grottos and border to Lebanon
Acre tour underground Crusader city
Walk Acre old city market
Observe Baha’i Gardens and Haifa port from scenic vista on Mt Carmel Drive
Tour Caesarea – ancient Roman capital and port.
Friday August 19
Shopping at Mea Shearin St
Shop in old city on way back to hotel
Prepare for Shabbat
Services at hotel
Dinner at hotel
Saturday August 20
Services at local Shul near Inbal – Hovevei Tzion Synagogue
Lunch at hotel
Sunday August 21
Visit Dottie and Asaf at their home in Har Gilo
Supermarket to buy Zahtar.
Smoke Burger (Shuk) via Wolt delivery
Monday August 22