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Thursday, January 06, 2011

ON THE ROAD TO SAFED

In Israel on the road to Safed and an ancient Sephardic synagogue, our Margaret Morse tour bus stops in Carmiel for us to view a sculpture that seemed to sum up Jewish history. The artist depicted feelings of despair coupled with hope. The sculptures were filled with family and love. To explain, let me share the artist, Nicky Imber’s own words:

Dear Friends,
Many years ago, when I escaped form Dachau, I promised myself that if I should survive, I would dedicate my artistic life to perpetuating the memory of the Holocaust. I have created many different works of art in my lifetime, but most poignantly important are the ones standing in Carmiel today, and hopefully forever. From deep within my heart, I created them in honor of those who perished, those who have survived and those who follow and need to remember.
The park at Carmiel is entitled "The History of the Jewish People" and including three groupings: "Holocaust", "Aliyah", and "Hope". It depicts people who know that their end will be, but never give up hope and their faith in G-d. These are actual pictures I have in my mind from my horrible existence in Dachau.

I also invite you to visit Nicky Imber’s website, particularly to read the biography of this extraordinary man.

As you look at the photographs, you will see the anguish of the people. In "Holocaust," the pain on their faces reflects the pain of all the people suffering.

Nicky Imber's History of the Jewish People

In "Aliyah," one man carries the Torah back to Israel.

Nicky Imber's History of the Jewish People

In "Hope," the mother and child give us positive thoughts of the future and of future generations.

Nicky Imber's Hope

Imber contributed sculpted animals to the parks in Carmiel for children to climb on and enjoy, and there is also a memorial to the Allies who fought the Nazis.

Memorial to Allied Soldiers

The entire atmosphere is beautiful and moving, but it is also triumphant over evil. I’m glad we visited on this sunny, blue-skyed day.

As we drive through the Carmiel Valley, we pass Arab communities with unfinished homes and learn the custom for a son to bring his new wife into his parents’ home while he builds a new home for his new family. The building may take years as the son earns his money and adds to his home floor by floor.

Traveling to Safed, we pass vineyards, a relatively new addition to Israel, and we also drive up the highest mountain in Israel, Mt. Meron at 3,962 feet.

wine

Safed is one of four holy cities in Israel.

Safed  Safad

At times in its history it has been the center of Jewish learning and  home to some of the most famous Jewish scholars and mystics. Today, too, it is a home to students and people who wish to connect to their heritage. It is a center for Kabbalah. In Safed we visit the Yosef Caro Sephardic Synagogue  named after Yosef Caro, who came to Safed in 1777, prayed in this synagogue, and authored the Shulchan Aruch, The Code of Jewish Law.

This ancient synagogue is quite different from the ones most of the people on the tour are accustomed. The bima is in the middle of the room, and the seating is around the room’s periphery.

seating and books

There are ancient books in cases lining the walls, and the ark is beautiful. Unlike Torahs in our synagogues, here the Torah is encased in a beautiful wooden case in which it can be rolled for reading. I’d never seen something like this before.

Torah

Many of the shops in Safed are art galleries, and in the Artists’ Colony in the Judith Gallery I bought a beautiful Hamsa, something I had hoped to bring home from Israel with me.

For a good background of Safed, visit the website at http://www.safed.co.il/ You will find this city, continually occupied by at least a Jewish minority throughout the exile from Israel, has a very interesting history and was the site of an important battle during Israel’s War of Independence.

We leave Safed with its beautiful views and head to Hagoshrim Kibbutz in Tiberias to stay for several nights. More on this incredible place (and not at all what I expected) in my next post.

"Third Age Traveler" travel trips vacations tours destinations "third age" photography "travel photos" "travel tips" "travel blogs" seniors "senior travel" "photo blogs" world "middle east" Israel Safed Safad Carmiel Imber art sculpture "outdoor sculpture" Holocaust Aliyah Hope memorials allies wine Arab synagogue "Joseph Caro" ark Torah books kibbutz "Margaret Morse"

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