From the Master of Kadosh (January, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 11:57 AM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 11:57 AM ]
Last November, my wife went to Israel on business. I joined her for a few days of vacation after her project was completed. We rented a car, a GPS, and hit the road to see a variety of sites around the country.
 There is a lot to learn in a new country. For example, in Israel, they adopt the Mediterranean driving style: foot on the gas, hand on the horn. It was really nerve-wracking, until I learned to drive like them. On the plus side, police cars always have their lights flashing, so when the speed limit is 100 km/h and you're driving 120, you can see the police in the distance and have plenty of time to slow down. Just driving like the natives.
Many Israelis observe the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. They have a rule against flipping electrical switches. So be careful when you step onto an elevator. It may be set to operate automatically, stopping on every floor, on the way up, and on the way down. Automatic revolving doors don't revolve. And there are no local newspapers that day. Restaurants typically close Friday nights, so finding a place to eat takes some effort.
Most of us grew up listening to and later reading Bible stories. So you can imagine what it was like to catch a glimpse of the Sea of Galilee for the first time. Or to visit Capernaum, a town that remains in well-tended ruins. They have a modern church built above an ancient church, built on top of Simon Peter's home, which served as the headquarters for Jesus's ministry.
Down the road was the ancient boat, discovered during an exceptionally dry year when the lake level was very low. You can see the 2000-year-old fisherman's boat in a museum, and learn about how it was originally used, preserved for centuries in the mud, then recovered and prepared for display at tremendous expense. You can never accuse the Israelis of skimping on funds for archaeology.
On our way to Jerusalem, we stopped at the Letrun Armor Museum, which has the world's largest collection of military tanks. If you can think of a tank, any country, any time period, they probably have at least one of them. Like our Wall in Washington DC, with the names of our soldiers lost in the Vietnam war, the Israelis also have a Wall, with the names of their sons and daughters fallen since the rebirth of the nation in 1948. And they have a very respectful monument to the Allies (The United States, Great Britain, and Russia) to commemorate our victory over the Nazis during the Second World War. Perhaps some of you reading this article participated in that effort.
Jerusalem, especially the Old City, is always a focal point of a visit to Israel. The walls of the Old City were built by Suleiman the Magnificent (Sultan of the Ottoman Empire) in 1538, although the city itself dates back to the late Bronze Age. Like anywhere else in Israel, you can't get a decent map and it's easy to get lost. There is no shortage of people willing to guide you... for a fee.
Certain places, such as the Temple Mount, are known historical locations. Others, such as Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, the Garden of Gethsemane, are locations based on tradition. Sometimes there are multiple places where a single event is said to have taken place, and the experts disagree on which, if either, is the right one. If you are there on a religious pilgrimage, you just visit the sites that your tradition follows and don't concern yourself with such details.
The most challenging adventure was our visit to Masada. Everybody told us that we had to see the dawn from Masada. They forgot to mention that the only way up there pre-dawn is to walk. We almost made it by the time the sun rose over the Dead Sea. Several dozen young Israeli men were present that day for initiation into military service.
Masada is the mountain fortress of a group of Sicarii rebels during the Great Revolt (68 to 72 CE). When defeat and capture by the Roman 10th legion was imminent, the rebels chose death over surrender. The original ruins remain mostly undisturbed, so you can see how the people lived, and where events took place.
On the way back to Jerusalem, we stopped at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls came from. That site is another excavated ruin open to visitors. You can also see some of the caves in the distance where scrolls were hidden. There is a big display on the scrolls themselves at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem.
There are a lot of religious people in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem. And a lot of different religions are represented. You can be whatever you are as long as you mind your manners. Most people do. But there are limitations. For example, only Orthodox Jewish marriage is recognized by the Israeli government. As a result, a large number of Israelis fly to Cyprus to get married.
They have a decent health care system, too. Everybody is covered, no exclusions, although it's government administered. But income taxes are high at 60 percent.
As we flew home, my wife and I were discussing all that we saw and learned, and how much more we wanted to see and do. We came home with a renewed appreciation for being citizens of the United States. For example, in our country, the Constitution separates the powers of the Church and the Government, so we could get married right here in California, close to home. And our taxes are low... especially when you consider how much we expect of our government.

Daniel Doornbos, Master of Kadosh
Happy New Year to all   !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!