Minutes of Meeting

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Date: December 10, 2000

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall

Meeting Topic: Our Shared Heritage: Israel Trip with Christians and Jews

Facilitator: Rabbi Hillel Fox, Rev. Don Ramsey, Dieter and Suzi Walk

Host: Connie Breen and Eileen Moorman

PRESENT: Eileen Moorman, Acting Chair, presiding; Judith Baker, Connie Breen, Larry Briskin, Bert Buby, Bea Burke, Erman Cole I, Phyllis Duckwall, Shirley Flacks, Eric Friedland, Debra Geier, Agnes Hannahs, Eugene Hannahs, Luthera Hatcher, Bruce Himebaugh, Sophie Kahn, Stephen Kahn, Bernice Klaben, Ed Klaben, Jerry Kotler, Ken Lotney, John Magee, Arnold Mayer, Eileen Moorman, Bill Rain, Donald Ramsey, Jeanne Rittner, Pat Searcy, Gilbert Unger, Dieter Walk, Suzie Walk, Juanita Wehrle-Einhorn, Robert Wehrle-Einhorn.

Eileen called the meeting to order at 8 PM. Eileen delivered the devotional which was based on an Irish blessing focused on the concept of light. "The blessing of light be with you both outside and within. May you ever give a kindly blessing to those you meet along the road. After you are gone, may the earth rest easy over you." Eileen then turned the meeting over to the Israel Tour Panel.

Dieter began the presentation by saying that he is wearing a hat just as he and the other Christian and Jewish men on the Israel Tour. Although not required, the wearing of hats (kepah's in Hebrew) was a sign of respect by the Christians on the tour to Jews and the Jewish state that they were visiting. Dieter then introduced the panel: Dieter and Suzi Walk, Pastor Don Ramsey, and Rabbi Hillel Fox. Dieter asked that questions be held to the end of the presentation. Dieter said that the objective of the tour was to assemble Christian and Jewish communities to tour Israel together in order to share their common Biblical heritage. The tourgroup's hotel in Jerusalem was their home base. The tourgroup had monthly meetings before the tour to become acquainted. People were comfortable with each other throughout the trip. Interactions among the group members were phenomenal. The group included a wide range of personalities and spiritual levels. There were two Shabbats (sabbaths) during the trip. Sometimes Christians and Jews did things separately on Shabbat, but the group always closed Shabbat together with the Havdalah service (twisted candle lighting which separates the day of peace and rest [Shabbat] from the workweek).

At this point Suzi showed slides from the tour. She told about Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from Efrat who spoke to the group about the relationship between Arabs and Jews in the area around Efrat. The tourgroup visited an Arab Christian school. Suzi interspersed her presentation with Biblical quotations referring to Israel and Jerusalem. The tourgroup planted trees in the Hadassah Forrest. The group took a walking tour through the Old City of Jerusalem. Suzi and the other tourgroup members were amazed at the knowledge and the dedication and conviction of the tourguide that led their group. He was a rabbinical student. One of the things that they saw in Jerusalem was a golden menorah that is being made in case a new temple is constructed on the Temple Mount. The tourgroup spent time in Dieter and Suzi's favorite store, Shorashim. The owner of this store, Moshe, likes to schmooze (engage in small talk) with visitors to the store about Judaism and Christianity. The tourgroup visited one of the excavation sites on the southern wall of the temple. They had a hillside view of the City of David (Jerusalem). They visited another excavation site at the City of David. Slides were shown of a rooftop view of the Old City and Ben Yehudah street at night and in the daytime. The tourgroup visited Machne Yehudah market and the Mount of Olives. In Hebron, they visited the Machpelah, Cave of the Patriarchs. The tourgroup had a picnic by the Dead Sea and saw gazelle graising at the Ein Gedi reserve. They visited KumRan on the Dead Sea and Jericho. Suzi noted the presence of modern and ancient methods of transportation. She also said that flowers were growing everywhere. The tourgroup visited the Beit Shaan National Park. They took a boatride on the Sea of Galilee and stayed at a hotel there. They viewed a beautiful mosaic floor in Galilee and then went to Natanya by the sea. They visited the Ranana Absorption Center. In Tel Aviv, they went to Independence Hall where David Ben Gurion gave his speech declaring independence in 1948.

Dieter said he was very intrigued with Mea Shaarim, the very Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. It is a very old area. Mea means 100, and Shaarim can mean gates or portions. There is a reference to this in Genesis 26: "Isaac was blessed one-hundred fold for his obedience, therefore . . ." Through obedience to the Lord, they will be blessed 100 times. Dieter noted that there are many different groups living in Mea Shaarim. Each group identifies with a different Rebbe and each has its own courts. The people of Mea Shaarim are thus judged more by their own people in a Bet Din (Jewish legal court) than in Israeli civil courts. What people wear helps identify which group they are identified with. There is a kaleidoscope of different peoples. These groups are waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. Suzi & Dieter have been in that community often during their 15 or 16 trips to Israel. In this area, synagogues are more common than drug stores. The neighborhood gives you a feeling of stepping back in time when living was less complicated. The important things in this area are faith, family, and community.

Pastor Don Ramsey said he appreciated the opportunity to go to Israel with a more general focus than he had in prior trips. He was also gratified to tour Israel with this particular group. He felt that he learned a lot about both the Christian and Jewish communities on the tour. There were two occasions during which things struck him in an interesting way. One was the visit to Yad Vashem (memorial to the Holocaust). In the Hall of Remembrance there, Rabbi Fox read a memorial prayer, and Don noted that everything went silent in the hall. The imagery that came to his mind was that this service was a continuation of the Temple service from ancient times. Despite anything that had occurred, God would not forsake his people Israel. He felt this to be a particularly striking and moving event. The second occasion was the visit to the Hill of the Beatitudes. The tourguide asked Don to read from the Beatitudes. Don intended his talk to be primarily directed to the Christians. However, afterward, it was the Jews who came up to comment on his reading, not the Christians. He felt he understood better the context of Jesus's sermon by being at that location.

Rabbi Fox said the rabbis teach that Israel without spirituality is like a body without a soul. To be able to share this with people of different faith traditions was particularly meaningful for him. Rabbi Fox began by talking about the city of Hevron. Abraham negotiated to obtain land at Hevron from Efron for a resting place for Sarah. There is interesting numerology on the names of Abraham and Efron. The price of the land was 400 schekels. Rabbi Fox noted that all of the patriarchs and most of the matriarchs are buried at this one site. It is thus the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths. Very few groups go to Hevron because it is a hotly disputed area between Arabs and Jews. However, Rabbi Fox felt it was necessary for the tourgroup to go there because of this connection to the foundation of the faiths. The tourgroup heard the sounding of the shofar (ceremonial rams horn instrument) there. For Hillel, it was very meaningful to pray at the Cave of Machpelah. He noted that when the tourgroup returned to the bus, they found that one of the windows was cracked from rocks thrown at the bus. The bus driver had to make a slight detour to file a police complaint for insurance purposes. The other site that Rabbi Fox loves is the Western Wall. The tourgroup had a special tour of the tunnels near the Temple Mount. The tourguide brought the group through the Muslim-Arab Quarter. They had to walk with special security through this area. The tourguide was very vivacious in describing his love of living in Israel. The whole tour was blessed to have wonderful tourguides. The tourguide in Jerusalem worked for the Israeli rabbinate in the Army. This tourguide observed that he felt that this tour was unique because it included Christians and Jews.

Dieter noted a few people from the tourgroup were present at the Dialogue meeting. Planning is underway for another Jewish-Christian tour of Israel in October of the year 2001. Dieter observe that the media misreports the security situation in Israel. It is not that bad. Dieter does not hesitate to go to Israel for security reasons. Don added that his pastor friend went without difficulty. Suzi said another friend went to Israel without difficulty. Dieter said the tourguides were skilled at avoiding any areas where there might be trouble. They know the country and the people. Don noted the rabbinical student tourguide asked him whether he thought he would make a good rabbi.


The meeting was opened to questions and comments at 8:50 PM. Jerry asked about the gold menorah being made for the temple. He noted that the Bible says specifically how it is to be made: out of one piece of metal. He asked whether it satisfies this condition. Dieter said he knows it is solid gold and thinks that it must be made in accordance with Biblical specifications. Dieter said that a Temple Faithful group is making such preparations. Ken asked about the political implications of a movement to rebuild the temple, given there are two central Islamic holy sites already on the Temple Mount. Rabbi Fox admitted that this is a problem. Research on the Temple Mount has shown that any rebuilt temple would overlap with the Islamic holy sites. Nevertheless, it would be nice if all the buildings could coexist.

Phyllis asked about the day care center which the tourgroup visited. On another matter, Rabbi Fox said that the group developed a tremendous respect for each other. On Shabbat, the Jews and Christians in the tourgroup sang songs together at the restaurant. The other restaurant patrons all joined in with the group, not knowing that the group included Christians. When Pastor Ramsey quoted from the New Testament, some of the patrons realized that Christians were present and were quite surprised. Then all the restaurant patrons gathered together and engaged in a dialogue.

Everyone in the tourgroup said that the trip was an experience that they would not have missed. It was absolutely fantastic. There is a newspaper published in Israel called the Christian Citizen. It had an excellent story about how the American press misreports events in Israel and does not give Israel its due. The article stated that it is imperative that Israel get more support from the West. Dieter said he and Suzi know David Dolan who reports in a very unbiased way in the Christian Citizen. Suzi said the Jewish-Christian Israel Tour in October, 2001 is limited to 26 people, and it is important that those interested in going contact her as soon as possible. Probably, there would be 12 Christians and 12 Jews plus the tourguides. A small group like this is easier to move around and is more cohesive. Dieter reinforced the point that a smaller group has more quality touring time. Don said that the Christians on the tour wanted to have a Baptismal service at the Sea of Galilee. Some of the Jewish people said they wanted to observe. He decided to talk with Rabbi Fox about this since Christian observance was not the central focus of the tour. Once it was described to him, Rabbi Fox said there was no problem with having this Baptismal service on the tour. Jeanne Rittner, a Jewish lady who attended the tour, went to the Baptismal service said that she just wanted to learn about this Christian practice. She said that in many of the places they went, there was a Mikveh (Jewish ceremonial bath pool). A Christian Minister from Trotwood who went on the tour said he found the tour experience very exhilarating. As a result, people from his church have gone to Israel since then. Dieter said there were several picture albums containing pictures from the trip. These were passed around the room so all the attendees could look at them.

The formal program ended at 9:10 PM.

Administrative Matters

Agnes agreed to prepare a presentation on Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the March 11 meeting.

Eileen asked Shirley to talk about the Dialogue Retreat on October 14 with Rabbi Riemer as facilitator. Shirley said that Rabbi Riemer would also be a guest of Beth Jacob Congregation that weekend, and Hadassah might also be involved in cosponsoring his visit. Eileen described some details of the retreat. It would be held from 1:00 until 6:00 PM at Bergamo. A dinner would follow the retreat. On another matter, Shirley invited everyone to her house for the next meeting of the Dialogue on January 14, where Eric Friedland will give a presentation on the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Ken stated that he will be delivering a Jewish music presentation in an Introduction to World Music class on January 23 from 12 noon until 1:15 PM (see announcement on page 6 of these minutes). In the class, Ken plans to play his favorite Jewish music recordings, including great cantors, such as Jan Pierce and Richard Tucker, Klezmer music, and other Jewish music. The class is open and visitors are welcome.

Someone proposed an Arab American-Jewish Dialogue group. Eileen thanked everyone for attending.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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