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FIELD EXPERIENCES
- TEXT AND CONTEXT

A variety of opportunities to wander through Jerusalem hand-in-hand with some exceptional visionaries, poets, philosophers, and Biblical figures, stopping from time to time to be inspired by their writings - delving into the Israel they dreamed of, imagined, yearned for and experienced, all the while reflecting on our own relationship with Israel today and its meaning in our lives.

Please note: David is not a licensed tour guide and it is not his intention to replace those who are. What he provides is a  complementary educational experience enhanced by the landscapes and sites of the city he lives in and loves.

Jerusalem is a see-saw

"Jerusalem is a see-saw; sometimes I dip down / into past generations and sometimes I rise skywards and then / yell like a child yelling, his legs swinging way up / I want to get off, Dad, I want to get off, Dad, help me off. / And that's how all the holy men ascend to heaven / like children shouting, Father I want to stay up here, / Father, don't get me down, our Father our King, / Leave us up here, our Father our King!"– Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai, poet laureate of Israel, had a singularly intense relationship with Jerusalem in all its complexity, expressed evocatively in the countless poems he dedicated to the city. During this stroll through Yemin Moshe with the poet curiously listening in, we will read a sampling of his works, challenging us to reflect on our relationship with both the celestial and earthly dimensions of this eternal capital of the Jewish people and encouraging us to consider anew just what it is that we mean when we utter the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.” 

            

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In Conversation
with Theodor Herzl

"I truly believe that even after we possess our land, Zionism will not cease to be an ideal. For Zionism includes not only the yearning for a plot of Promised Land legally acquired for our weary people, but also the yearning for ethical and spiritual fulfillment."       – Theodor Herzl , Tikvatenu      

Herzl is often thought of as having concerned himself exclusively with securing a safe place for the Jewish people to live in, with little interest in what shape the home they would build for themselves would take. This visit to the interactive Herzl Museum and Educational Center, located on the mountain in Jerusalem named after the visionary of the Jewish state, will dispel that fundamental misunderstanding. Through this experience, complemented by selected readings from his literary legacy, we will delve into his vision of the exemplary society he believed incumbent upon the Jewish people to fashion – one that would benefit not only themselves, but the entire world.

The Land is a text

"What is so precious about the land? What is the magnetic quality of its atmosphere? The land of Israel – biblical chapters hovering everywhere… The land is a text. Here you are illiterate unless you remember words of Scripture. Wherever you stand you are at the frontier of biblical moments."

     – A.J. Heschel, Israel: An Echo of Eternity

Taking for granted that we pray facing Jerusalem, we far too infrequently contemplate the significance of the Land of Israel in Jewish thought and its meaning in our lives today. With readings in hand from the Bible, the Talmud, Yehuda Halevi, the Kotzker Rebbe, Rachel the poetess, Theodor Herzl,  A.J. Heschel, Yehuda Amichai and more, we will do just that. With primary sources in hand, we will wander from the Armon Hanatziv promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem to the Kotel, discovering along the way not only that “the land is a text” but also that texts in context take on new meanings.

Please note: David is not a licensed tour guide and it is not his intention to replace those who are. What he provides is a  complementary educational experience enhanced by the landscapes and sites of the city he lives in and loves.

Jerusalem in the  footsteps of Herzl

"He did not understand why the sight of this strange city affected him so powerfully. Was it the memory of words heard in early childhood…?  One of the few Hebrew phrases he still knew rang in his ears: 'L’shana ha-ba’a b’Yerushalayim – Next year in Jerusalem!'…And here before him the walls of Jerusalem towered in the fairy moonlight. His eyes overflowed… and the hot tears coursed slowly down his cheeks."      – Theodor Herzl, Altneuland

Herzl visited Palestine only once, but the ten days he spent there in 1898, would have a profound effect on everything he would do thereafter. To understand why, we will follow in his footsteps in Jerusalem, from the train station to which he would arrive early on a Friday evening, to the hotel to which walked so as not to desecrate the Sabbath, and on to the home in Mamilla where he would end up staying as his lodgings had been overbooked. Along the way, we will read excerpts from his diary describing his impressions of the city, postcards he sent home through which he shared his experiences, and passages from the novel Altneuland, giving expression to his dream of what Jerusalem would one day become.