Notes From Israel ~ January 12, 2011

 What an honor to be in Israel during this season. I arrived on January 2nd. There are many facets to my 25th journey to Israel. In this blog I would like to share with you about the wonderful rain that we had on Friday January 7th, the Shabbat and the journey up north to the Carmel region where the devastating fire burned thousands of acres of forest in December.

I was at the Western Wall just as Shabbat was beginning. From Succoth to Pesach (fall to spring) is the season that we pray for rain. Israel is desperate for rain. It’s been about ten years since she has received adequate rainfall to replenish the main water source, the Galilee (a/k/a the Kinneret). The lack of rain over the years greatly contributed to the recent fires. Each drop of rain is more precious than gold. Although there hasn’t been an abundance of the needed rain, there was a rejoicing last week when the heavens opened with this life-giving source. Please continue to pray for rain for Israel.

On this picture you will see the raindrops, although it looked like snow. It was cold enough to snow and would have been as wonderful.

The next day, Saturday January 8th, we traveled up north. Our group visited a wonderful Druze village in the Carmel region where we stood in the former residence of Naphtali Herz Imber, an English poet originally from Bohemia who penned Israel’s National Anthem;  HaTikvah (“The Hope”). Words to Hatikvah were written in  1886 by Naphtali Herz Imber. The melody was written by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldavia. Cohen actually based the melody on a musical theme found in Bedrich Smetana’s “Moldau.”.

Today this historical building where Hatikvah was written is a Druze Memorial in honor of over 350 Druze who lost their lives while serving in the Israeli army.  Our group was deeply moved as we sang Hatikvah. In a sense it was a preparation to what we were going to observe next; the Carmel Forest to witness the results of the fire.

I don’t have words to tell you how we felt. Perhaps the words of our guide, Yoel, said it best. “I was fearful for Israel when I got news of the fire.” Of the pictures I took, this one captured what we were feeling. I took this from the bus and was surprised how the reflection of how Esther’s face told the story.

Copyright Cynthia Hillson Jan 2011

And with this I will close with these thoughts and the lyrics from Hatikvah.

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,

With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,

Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope – will not be lost:

To be a free people in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem.

There are many, many organizations around the world collecting aid to help Israel, especially at this time during their loss. On Saturday we were a bit surprised. Our group had assembled a large number of gifts for the orphanage that was very near to the fire. Posted outside their entrance was a container filled with donations and a sign. The sign said they were overwhelmed with donations and they don’t need anything. Please take items from the container and the ones you brought and donate to other places in Israel. While this was a tad bit “shocking” it is understandable; compassionate hearts around the world poured out tangible love to the overflow.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked where a good place to give to Israel is.  May I suggest The Jewish National Fund, it is at the top of my list. They are the ones who planted the forest, and they are the ones who will be re-planting the forest.

You can e-mail me for ministries based in Israel where your donations can make a difference in the lives of the needy here in Israel.

With love from Jerusalem,



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