Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Shalom, Israel!

A friend is currently seeking teenagers to go to Israel and it reminded me of our unforgettable trip we took when I was 14 years old. Before all those memories become lost in the mist, I’d love sharing at least a few with you. There, as guests of a group known as the Original Hebrew Israelites, we toured that beautiful land for two weeks.

Our hotel accommodations were quite fine but we spent only a few nights there as we were whisked from home to home. At times, our accommodations in these abodes consisted of only a straw mat on the floor. In terms of food, I recall eating a good deal of fish, hard bread, eggs and some meat. By the end of our stay, I longed for a good old American-made pizza!

Having good useful vision, I’m not certain a mobility cane would have saved me and I’m glad my Mother had lightening fast reflexes. As we crossed a rope bridge over an amazingly beautiful area known as David’s Fall, I slipped. The next thing I knew, like a cat protecting her kitten, she grabbed me by my shirt collar and hoisted me back up and on we went. Good catch, mama!

Vans were our primary mode of transportation and we took a thrilling ride up Mount Tabor. On our way down, we encountered another van going up. Precision driving skills were put to the test as we very carefully inched passed the other vehicle. The view was absolutely breathtaking! I don’t think Mama found it as exciting, but she remained a trooper. Encountering armed troops at certain checkpoints, mercifully, we were always allowed to pass without incident.

There was one damper, though. At one point we attempted to stop and have lunch in a place called Qumran, but the swarming flies thought they, too, were invited and we were forced to flee to less-infested terrain.

I had several opportunities to sing and play my guitar for the guests at our hotel and other venues. We were also treated to a fantastic concert performed by our hosts. I regret that I no longer have the cassettes. My sister enjoyed one song in particular and even though she had absolutely no idea of the Hebrew translation, she enthusiastically sang it phonetically for weeks after.

Standing on the shores of the Dead Sea, which our hosts called the Live Sea as it contained a wealth of minerals; wading in the Jordan River; experiencing the Mount of the Beatitudes and visiting a host of other historic and Biblical sights were incredible experiences that will not ever be completely erased from my memory. I’m privileged to have been able to take the trip as we never again left the United States.

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