Ramla.  It’s sad to think this is our last day together as a group but then only fitting that I gorged myself on some of the best food of the trip.  Best snack: dates, (Shocker, I know), from the souk; Best Lunch: Falafel (pictured) from, well I can’t remember the name, but it was packed liked gnats to a bulb; Best Dinner: Samir’s. When the pita by itself becomes one of the most delicious things you’ve ever tasted, bread that melted in mouth with a tiny ballet of smokey charred  dancers pirouetting on your tongue, you know you’re in the right place.  There was a lot of hype leading up to this meal and I’m happy to report it delivered.

Earlier in the day we visited Kibbutz Gezer where we had our daily session of class complemented.  Gezer, meaning “carrot” in Hebrew was apparently part of a larger parcel of land that was given to King Solomon through the dowry of one of the Pharaoh's daughters.   Amongst the small gardens and community playground equipment that we heard presentations from a couple of strong women (Let me just say here that I have been rather impressed with the quality of our speakers–Kudos to our faculty for arranging a wonderful cast!).  Amal explained her work at reforming the education system in Israel.  We then heard words of encouragement from Rabbi Miri Gold, a Strong and inspiring woman, for both the direction of our studies as well as an encouragement to remain vigilant in responding to needs social and personal at unexpected moments.  Having become the third ordained woman in Israel and more recently leading institutional reform by becoming the first non-orthodox rabbi to earn access to a state salary admitted to never foreseeing her current role when she arrived at Gezer from Detroit as young woman back in the 60’s.

Such narratives challenge my own disposition amidst uncertainty or struggling to decide to act out of pragmatism or idealism.  For the more I ponder the more I come to believe that glimpses of God’s face are hidden in these moments. Perhaps I should learn welcome these challenges, which I am undoubtedly facing in many fronts, immersed in relaxation of spirit and draped in emotional garments of white as if I was greeting my beloved the Sabbath bride.

The artwork of Nihad Dabeet was incredible.  I was struck by the beauty and raw truth in his work...specifically in the olive tree.  The contrast between the new life associated with the tree which is constructed from the tangled wrap of iron barbed wire and pounded metal.  This was both a reminder of the hope as well as a lingering fragrance of past oppression.  The hope exists in the new life that is birthed out of fragments of remembered isolation and blood.  Peace cannot develop out of a vacuum or in the words and rhetoric of international organizations and pundits.  The voice in my head right now is telling me that peace is crafted by calloused and bloodied hands of the people with full remembrance of the journey.  ­­­­Furthermore, Dabeet believes that an artist can only create once he has experienced pain and darkness.  I’m reminded by the quote, “…make peace not love”

With all of this blood, sweat, and tears given, taken and forced, one wonders if ritual purification has any strength to wash clean said impurities?

Olive Tree: Nihad Dabeet (Thanks, Ali, for the photo!)
Speaks for itself...


marla kessler
03/12/2013 9:39pm

brendan, I am loving this blog. I so deeply appreciate your open hearted, wise, curious approach to just about everything you saw and experienced. Your photos are great and your descriptions allow me to take the journey along side of you. I can't wait to see you in person.


Leave a Reply


    My name is Brendan Dowd and I am currently a graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Interreligious Dialogue at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL.


    January 2013