Wow. According to Joel Rosenberg, 2010 was a record year for Israel visits. CBN reports that 60% of the tourists to Israel are Evangelical Christians. I was super blessed to have been able to visit Israel that very year, and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it ’til now.
In the beginning, I was lobbying to my family members, to attend with a group that was organized for bible-believing Christians, but I was outnumbered by the ones who wanted a Catholic-directed tour. In the end, we settled for attending a half-Jewish half-“Christian” tour that was attended by both practicing Jewish, Catholics, and Muslims. It made for a very interesting (and I should say fun) mix. It was this mix that helped me appreciate attending the Holocaust museum all the more. If I had gone with just a homogeneous group, I would have missed out on empathizing with the Jewish tourists and their families who were deeply moved by the exhibit, as well as missed the varied reactions were regarding Christians.
Leah,* a Jewish immigrant to the United States, to no one in particular, would comment on artefacts – I recall it was a particularly offensive comic book making fun of Jews. “The Christians always think we’re needing to be saved, but this shows otherwise.” (pregnant pause)
I appreciate how the museum was organized. They had tiny momentos at the beginning of the exhibit, which then led to bigger artefacts in larger, colder, darker, chambers then finally it all culminated in an area with the memorial.
I remember Leah and her husband fighting because they had different opinions on how to go about the tour – Leah* wanted to plan the tour with her husband, while he just wanted to go with the flow. “Don’t tell me how long I should or shouldn’t take the tour!” he bellowed.
I am glad that my family didn’t have to argue about how to do the trip. I love exploring museums (nerd alert) and I really take time to read captions, really go through items in detail. My family decided we would go through the tour at our own individual paces, and we’d just meet up at the coffee shop at the exit. I so appreciated this! Even if it took us quite long to re-converge, the whole experience was engaging. I loved that time was no object!
Visiting the library in the museum where you can look up any familial links to Jewish lines brought on a mishmash of emotions. My brother, who is studying Hebrew, had done prior research coming to Israel and was interested to see if my great grandmother’s family (mother’s side) had some Jewish relations. (Lola Titang, which is what we called my great grandmother and Mommy (what we called my maternal grandmother) had physical features that were not Filipino, not Chinese (interesting nose shape, and for Mommy, eyes that were on the violet side of purple) and the people in Victoria, Laguna had faith customs that were not exactly rooted in the Catholic tradition, so we had to wonder. Lo and behold, the library search produced some positive hits. An excited “Congratulations, we’re Jewish!” was something I never in a million years, expected to hear from him, since he is an atheist. I felt my heart beating really fast, wondering if his whole appreciation for all things Semitic would eventually lead him to —– could it be?
Processing all this at a personal level is taking longer than I thought. Jennifer, a tourist from Australia, and a member of our tour, asked me what the implications of this discovery were. I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say.
Some pieces of advice:
-Be prepared to walk, walk, and walk. For several months before the trip, I was training to run a 5k so I wasn’t tired during the tours. But I was super tired coming home though. There were two days in the whole tour that I just slept right through dinner, because of exhaustion. The good kind.
-Bring a wide-brimmed hat and a pamaypay.
-Drink lots of water, and bring bottled water in your backpack.
-Bring a swimsuit and a towel for a visit to the Dead Sea.
-People with food allergies, don’t eat anything on the plane! Don’t eat anything on the plane. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING ON THE PLANE, especially when traveling ____ Airlines. Name of airline available to friends I personally know, upon request. Bring your own food instead to eat en route to Israel. Or you could stuff your face and spend the night in the hospital. But the kosher food in Israel is delicious. Panalo. (I tried in vain to be raw in 2010, but failed)
I will bless those who bless you (Israel), and I will curse those who curse you.
*Changed names of course!