Saturday, 15 February 2014

Another long time without an update, due to laptop problems but what a time of discovery, amazing peace, and some revelation. 

MONDAY, 3re  Start of the week and I went to the postbox to collect Bat Kol post.  Imagine my surprise to find an envelope addressed to me, without looking too carefully I put it in my bag, thinking it was from  a friend in the UK and looking forward to opening it at the office.  Even bigger surprise when I did:  it was from a woman in Australia who has twice studied on the Bat Kol Program, and who was sending me a message of thanks for my being there, words of encouragement, and a donation of the work of Bat Kol!  Wow, what a start to the week.  As the week continued things were good.


WEDNESDAY, 5th I attended the Women’s Bible Study at Christ Church Rectory for the first time.  It’s led by Carol, wife of David, the Pastor, and we were a group of twelve, some resident Israelis and others from America, Canada,Germany,  UK, dropping in and out  like I am.   We are studying a book by Andrew Murray called New Life edited by Carol to make it more usable for people for whom English is not their first language.   and then to the big moments – eve of Sabbath, Sabbath meal and the day itself – Shabbat.


FRIDAY, 7th  starts with Torah study at the synagogue, then most of the rest of the day is preparation for Sabbath.  and then to synagogue,  How I  wish I could record the synagogue worship to welcome the Sabbath on Friday evening, and the spirituality and joy of the Erev Shabbat meal after synagogue.  Table fellowship in which whole families share  and at which Sabbath candles glow,  wine and bread are blessed, reflections on the Parashat (the Torah portion for the week) are shared and  songs are sung.  In this combination of light, wine, bread, music, Torah and fellowship,   our Christian eucharistic worship becomes home worship in the Sabbath meal.   An amazing time.

Then Shabbat itself:

SATURDAY, 8th  The Sabbath peace, the silence. Oh, how I wish I could bottle it  and send it to you - it is phenomenal!    As I sat in my room, I was enveloped in a blanket of  divine  stillness which is  tangible, apart from the occasional birdsong everything was so still and so beautiful. There was a great temptation to remain there in the silence of my room, . but I felt the sunshine was for enjoying  and maybe this was a good day to visit the Old City again.  There’s not been much time for this :   the days speed  by as  during the week  I go down to the office Monday - Thursday for part of the day, Wedneday morning is Women's Bible Study Group at Christ Church and then Friday morning is Torah Study Group at the synagogue and the rest of the day is spent preparing for Shabbat.   So when Saturday was  really bright, but fairly cold it seemed it would be good to be out and about.. Decisions, decisions.

I set off and when I reached Jaffa gate, it was time for coffee and cake in the Christ Church Coffee shop.  I spent quite a while there – it was  quite busy with mainly foreign tourists.  Tthen in came a man I had seen just along the street a bit earlier.   He looked homeless,  he was dirty, he looked old and he had a problem with one of his feet.  In the street, he had been sitting on the ground, one shoe and sock off perhaps waiting for his foot to be healed.   He had nothing  in the Coffee Shop but just sat in a leather armchair in the corner, and no one took any notice of him, they were all busy with their own needs, their own group , no time for the stranger,  neither the dirty old man or any other stranger.  Just like him, I sat alone, were we invisible?   What made us invisible – it would have been so easy to say it was his dirty eccentricity but I don’t think it was that – I wasn’t dirty, didn’t look particularly eccentric, but we were both ignored.  Anyway, it was a time for reflection and then a time of decision to send him a cup of coffee just to let him know that someone noticed him.  Perhaps it would have been better  to give him the two shekels than a cup of cappuccino, but again perhaps not.   The result of my reflection?   Look out for the invisible people in your day and decide what makes them so and what you can do to make a difference to their day – it might not require you  to buying them coffee – a smile or a nod might be just as effective or even more so.

My plan for the day then was to make a pilgrimage up the Via Dolorosa – but spirit willing and flesh weak!   The old city was very busy and as I looked up the first  steep narrow street, thronging with people and with traders each side,  all wanting to sell something (or everything), I decided it was not for me on this partcular day.   I took the easy option and sat in the square just inside Jaffa Gate, people-watching and how fascinating that was!    Groups of various denominations of Judaism  identified  by clothing, hat, hair, prayer tassles and so on, each outstandingly  declaring their faith and mingling in their city with many nationalities.  What a delight.   Then it was time for the longish walk back, and imagine how good it felt to meet someone I actually knew – Deborah from Christ Church - who was with two friends, and I could walk with them for a while.  When I left them I found a short cut through the park – this is really feeling  like being a local now!

SUNDAY, 9th I went to Christ Church again, and was quite early so had time to listen of the music practice.  A few minutes before the start of the service David asked me if I would read the Old Testament lesson.  It was Isaiah 58:1-12 and how ChA+ it was!  Look it up and you’ll see what I mean!   If you’re a member of the ChA+ team I’m sure it will touch your heart and fire you up yet again for the great mission God has given each of us.      Right in the front was the young volunteer from the coffee shop  who was ‘go between’ to  deliver my offering of coffee to the old man the day before … 

The church was full, but at coffee afterwards one lady told me that the regular congregation is only about 30 so all the others are visitors.  I met several different people again at coffee  and joined a few other women for lunch.  Then afterwards  I was again the lonely person in the coffee shop!   It was my choice  and part of my social experiment -  I could have started a conversation with someone …. but someone could have started a conversation with me also.   Keep on looking out for the invisible people wherever you are!

MONDAY.10th  Sad news this week of the death of ‘little Sandra’ longterm member of St Peter’s – it’s times like this when I feel  far away, also later in the week hearing of the collapse and hospitilisation of Andrew Williams of the Life shop in WSM.  So lots of prayers there and of course for  all I know and love.  

But there are many good happenings – Jacky (St Ps) and Anne (class of 2013) who regularly send uplifting Shabbat Shalom messages which are eagerly awaited, a letter from Betty, things which are really important and helpful as 'boosters'.   Wonderfully helpful also, a long Skype with Ruth and Jeremy, finishing about midnight Israeli time, as Jeremy made great efforts to rectify my laptop faults by remote access – praise the Lord for clever son and patient daughter-in-law. That I’m writing this is a tribute to Jeremy’s achievement!   Hope Rebekah’s better now and that her RE exam went well.

TUESDAY, 11th   Great day!   Belated birthday party for one of the Ecce Homo sisters:  first a visit to the cinema to watch ’12 years a slave’, a horrific, painful true story  which leaves you speechless, then back for a lovely supper  -  I’m part of the family now so catering was a joint effort so I’m feeling really at home!  A super time.

The regular events of the week, CC Bible Study, Torah Study, Erev Shabbat have all been good.  Besides those happenings, quite a bit of my time has been prepation for the first meeting of the Academic Planning Committee which will be on Sunday afternoon.   Prayers please for that folks,  the Chair of the Board is joining us on Skype from  Canada.   Then we have a staff meeting on Monday morning.  

SATURDAY 15th   Having had a beautiful  time of spirituality, prayer and fellowship this week (oh, and work), I am now enjoying my Sabbath rest, doing something I’ve longed to do which is to bring my blog up to date but have lacked time, technology and energy to do.  So here I am, wrapped in that divine blanket of peace, listening to favourite music like The Fragance of Christ, Avenu Melkeinu, Le col ish yesh shem, Kineret, and much more, often  remembering but always looking forward to all that is to come, certain that :

You are with us in our prayers, our love and our doubts,

in our longing to feel Your Presence and do Your will.

You are the still clear voice within us.

Therefore, O God, when doubt troubles us,

when anxiety makes us tremble,

when pain clouds the mind,

we look inward for the answer to our prayers.

There may we find You,

and there find courage, insight and endurance.

And let our worship bring us closer to one another,

that all Israel, and all who seek You,

may find new strength for Your service.

Baruch ata, Adonai, HaMelech hakadosh

Praised are You, Adonai, Holy Sovereign.

  From  Mishkan T’filah – A Reform Siddur
Don't forget to visit the Bat Kol website,,  for full details of  Bamidbar (the Book of Numbers) this July's course - its not too late to apply and it is unique, and inspirational. Also visit the BatKol Institute page on  Facebook.   If you would like any information from me about Bat Kol, about the course, or how it was for me last July, please email:





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