Journal Highlights: Roads I Have Traveled ... Excerpt #2 from March, 1995

Israel: March, 1995, (continued): After clearing customs at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv we were met by Shaul Amir. Shaul took us to the Grand Beach Hotel located on the MediterraneanSea. Shaul showed us some downtown streets that he said we would enjoy walking after dinner. He said tourist safety was definitely not a problem in Tel Aviv even after dark. So, following a lovely dinner Jay and I walked around Tel Aviv for about two hours.

Walking in a city at night seemed very strange to me. For the past 20 years of international travel I had learned to be extremely cautious in strange settings. It was impossible for me to imagine my walking along in Sao Paulo, Brazil after dark . . . or Nairobi, Kenya in broad daylight. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk and it set our minds and bodies for a good night's rest in Israel.

Saturday - 18th

Sabbath day in Tel Aviv . . . it was both a holy day and a holiday. The work week in Israel was six days rather than five so the one free day per week was fully utilized by everyone. As I opened our hotel window upon awakening, I looked out over the city. A lot of families and tourists were already in the streets. Many people were gathered on the roof tops of the surrounding buildings enjoying breakfast in the morning sunshine and soft sea breeze. As I stood and watched I remarked to Jay that it certainly was understandable why so many Jews returned to Israel to live. Tel Aviv was a wonderful city.

Shaul was not to pick us up until 12:00, so following breakfast Jay and I decided to walk along the beach front. Our stroll turned out to be far more delightful than we had expected. After passing a couple of public beach areas and several private beach clubs we happened on to what was called the promenade. It was a well-designed, well-maintained cobblestone walkway running for a couple of miles along the beach and adjacent to the major hotels of the city. By that time of the morning the promenade was already getting crowded. Balloon vendors and ice-cream peddlers dotted the walkway. On the beach a continuous string of beach volleyball games was underway. Sailboats out on the Mediterranean and colorful umbrellas of the many activities made an absolutely unforgettable picture.

But the part I enjoyed most about our two-hour Sabbath walk was our encounter with the musicians. Many Russian musicians had recently migrated from the old Soviet Union to Israel. Most of them could not find musical occupations since the Tel Aviv symphony and the other surrounding symphonies were already full. So, those newly arriving masters needed to find jobs somewhere in the common marketplace and on the Sabbath they would gather in groups or appear in solo in order to earn additional money from their performances.  

We came upon a chamber orchestra of six players. When I heard them I told Jay that we were going to sit a while and listen, "You are in the presence of masters." In truth, I had never heard better. We found a small gazebo where there was room to sit and I simply closed my eyes, breathed in the soft sea breeze and let the warm March morning sun saturate my soul as I listened to the strains that I declared came directly from heaven rather than from that beach walk.

At 12:00 Shaul came to the hotel to take us to have lunch at his home. On the way, he wound his way into the old, historic town of Jaffa or Joppa. There we stopped and he led us to the excavation site and museum of the old city. Joppa was where Jonah was thrown up on the shore by the whale. Joppa was where Dorcus lived and Peter raised the woman from the dead. Joppa was where Richard the Lionhearted defended the early Christians with his crusade and saved them from certain death. And Joppa was where Napoleon was thwarted with failure when he tried to conquer the townsfolk. The museum protected the archaeological diggings that took place from 1952 to 1986. Shaul was turning out to be a great local guide.

At his home Shaul and his wife Kika (kee kaw) had prepared a wonderful lunch and had invited another couple to join the four of us. The other guests were Dr. Yigul Halperin (yee gall) and his wife, Ruthie. Shaul and Kika had been friends with the Halperins nearly 20 years. Even though he was an OBGYN Dr. Yigal had served as the physician for Shaul's army command in the Israeli military. Now Yigal was the associate director of the hospital that we came to help. Both couples had spent considerable time in the US and we had some very stimulating conversation regarding US and Israeli current affairs and policies. Additionally, I had a great opportunity to once again tell about the beginnings and mission of Project C.U.R.E.

As Shaul drove us back to our hotel late that afternoon, I hit him with the concept of Project C.U.R.E. bringing state-of-the-art equipment to Israel and then having Isreal agree to give me all their replaced equipment in order that I could take it to some other area that was even more desperate. Their equipment would already be there which would cut down on large shipping costs if we donated it to some Arab or P.L.O. hospitals and, furthermore, knowing where the items from our warehouse were going should be an incentive for the Jewish related or Jewish directed hospitals, say in Denver, to give a little more freely to Project C.U.R.E. Shaul was definitely eager to pursue the idea both here in Israel and also to introduce me to potential contacts in major US cities.

Next Week: A new Idea of Collaboration

© Dr. James W. Jackson   

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