Last week we schlepped to Jerusalem for Amy's graduation from Hebrew University as a Master's in Community Development. While it was great to see her accomplish another milestone, the ceremony left a lot to be desired. Bottom-line, graduation ceremonies are boring. I remember the ceremony from my law school graduation where the speaker, political satirist Art Buchwald, said the only thing you will remember from my speech is that it was funny. He was right; that's all I remember, and he was funny.
Of course, what made this event particularly grueling was that it was all in Hebrew. While that may not seem surprising, her program was an international one taught in English, so we thought the graduation ceremony would also be in English. The highlight was an especially good three person Klezmer group (Klezmer is Jewish music from Eastern Europe). The only thing we understood (somewhat) from the ceremony was when the honorary speaker showed part of the movie, Social Network, about Mark Zuckerberg and the formation of Facebook. She then showed a clip from an Israeli documentary about the execution of Adolph Eichman, one of the architects of the Nazi Final Solution and the only man ever executed in Israel. While the film was in Hebrew, there were English subtitles. Apparently, one of those interviewed was involved in Eichman's execution and described in graphic detail his death including his bulging eyes following the execution. It was pretty gross. I was completely confused about the connection between the two films. Of course, not understanding Hebrew didn’t help. But, apparently, Amy was confused too, and her friends were all wondering what Facebook and Eichman had to do with their graduation, except maybe the connection about death through boredom. Anyway, we still had fun. I ate one piece of pastry and headed back north.
I can't say what happened exactly, but for the past 2-3 months, the law practice is booming. Honestly, it's hard to keep up, and the lengthy drive to our office is exhausting and time consuming. Need to come up with a new plan for this. Some of the cases are quite interesting. I have an Arab client who is being blocked in Washington, DC for some reason. Believe it or not, it's been three years. I asked his wife, who speaks perfect English, if he, his family or the mosque he attends have been involved in terrorism. She said no. Who knows? I have another client who is opening a counter-terrorism center in the US. Maybe he should team up with the Arab for a dog and pony show. Anyway, in meeting with him this past week, I wore the shirt depicted in the attachment. It's from the TV show, 24. He laughed and said he was familiar with the show. In addition to a few family cases where spouses are trying to get green cards through American spouses, I have a few other business cases, including a major hair product maker, opening a distribution center in the US. When we first met, he gave me some hair products for Stacy, but none for my bald spot on the crown of my heard. Oh well. Amazingly, these are all paying clients, and they're not crazy. All of them are Israelis.
As many know, a small group of us have been meeting for worship every other week. Our numbers have grown over the past few months. This past Saturday we had 16 people, the most we've ever had. It may not seem like many, but it's great for us. We're not trying to build a formal congregation. Rather, we simply want to worship in the way in which we're comfortable, which is a Jewish traditional service integrated with Yeshua the Messiah. Almost everyone is Jewish who attends.
Yesterday, our group plus others met for Shavuot (Pentecost in the church world) at another home. We had a great service. Gabriella, the woman from Uruguay who was in our ulpan, also attended. She said she had missed coming and wanted to come more. Also, others indicated interest in Shabbat services. Who knows what will happen next? Traditionally, products made with dairy are eaten on Shavuot. Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai as well as the inauguration of the New Covenant in the Book of Acts. Consequently, dairy is eaten because we’re feasting on the milk of God’s word. And we certainly did feast. Amazingly, my lactose intolerance didn’t erupt – another miracle for this holiday.
As most everyone knows, there is a tremendous divide in Israel between Jews and Arabs. Many Jews don’t like to be around Arabs, and Arabs resent and balk against Jewish presence. Most of Stacy’s and my time are spent with Israeli Jews, her clients, my clients, our worship group, our neighbors. But we do have friends in Nazareth, an Arab town about 15 minutes from us, and, of course, the area where Yeshua grew up. Our friends are Christian missionaries to the Arab communities. When we visit them and meet their friends, it’s like entering a different world.
The spoken language there is Arabic, not Hebrew, though most know Hebrew. Israel’s holidays are not celebrated, both national and religious. In fact, on Israel Independence Day, many in the Arab community celebrate what’s called, “Nakba,” which means catastrophe. And, yet, these folks are Israeli citizens. Those involved in black/white relations in the US are obviously familiar with trying to bridge racial and cultural divides, but the situation here is almost unparalleled. It’s like two nations are living within one nation, and both struggle against the other. The very nature of a Jewish state relegates non-Jews to a lesser status. Yet Israel’s very existence is based upon that concept both Biblically and historically. Sadly, there’s no great answer, except to help and understand the under privileged. As I said above, I do have one Arab client, and I gave advice to another Arab couple. For now, the best I can do is to help them and honor them for who they are – a people made in the image of God.
Another Stacy project
Our house number is 116. However, the house sign attached high on the outside wall of our house says 115. It’s been corrected twice by magic marker, an attractive and permanent change. For some time Stacy has been planning to make a mosaic with our house number and our name in Hebrew. She started it several weeks ago and went through various permutations, but the end result is quite impressive. The plan is to attach it to this concrete structure which houses our garbage cans but is right on the street, so visitors will see our name and number right away. I’m not sure what to do with the current house number – maybe put it in a scrap book.
Rebecca and family
Please pray for Jonah, our daughter Rebecca’s husband. He has a serious (not life threatening) illness and is on a medical protocol. It’s been pretty disruptive to the family.
Trip to the States
We’ll be in the States from June 25-July 29, although Stacy will stay behind until mid-September L to watch our granddaughter in California as her dad, Judah, works at a grape harvest as part of his education in wine-making. Our schedule looks the following:
June 25-30 – Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio)
June 30-July 16 – Richmond, VA
July 16-20 – Chicago
July 20-29 – California, mainly Sacramento
If you’re interested in scheduling me to speak and/or Stacy to play, please let me know.