1. I’ve always wanted to travel to the Holy Lands. Regardless of religious beliefs, the amount of history and impact on world culture is undeniable.
2. I wanted to finally meet, in person, a man who I first met via the interweb six or seven years ago. In that time, we’ve become close friends thanks to our love of photography, imagery and thoughts.
Goddess, being the Goddess that she is, agreed to the trip. And I know she’s glad she did.
The man is Shimon Z’evi, a retired professional photographer and college professor. A lifelong resident of Jerusalem, he was willing to show Goddess and I the city. And, if we passed muster, some of the countryside.
I’m pleased to say that we did pass muster.
Shimon was very honest, as he always is, from the outset. We were to get to know each other during the first day, then see if the we clicked in person as we did online. We were all pleased to find that we did. Matter of fact, Goddess and I agreed after that first meeting that we were looking at me in 40 years time. I just hope that in 40 years, I have the energy that Shimon has, as he did a fine job of running us ragged over the next week.
For five of our six full days in Israel, Shimon guided us through different parts of the city, giving detailed explanations on the history and meaning of what we were looking at. He answered every question that we had, even if it made him uncomfortable. But that’s been part of our relationship for years. Shimon is the one person, other than Goddess, that I can count on for honest feedback on my photographs. He’ll tell me when I nailed it and he won’t hesitate to tell me when I’ve missed it or completely blew it.
But why five of six days? Shimon is an Orthodox Jew, so he left us to our own devices as he observed the Sabbath. And that’s certainly something that we could not begrudge him.
During those five days, Shimon introduced us to the Haredi Jews, which are generally referred to as the Ultra-Orthodox Jews. He showed us many of the non-touristy sites as well as the back alleys, neighborhoods and markets of Jerusalem. In other words, he really put us in touch with the pulse of the city. And during one of those days, he willingly drove us out to the Dead Sea and to Masada, which fulfilled a life-long desire of mine to see the site of one of the most impressive acts of defiance in history, which ultimately ended tragically (or heroically, depending on your viewpoint).
While Goddess and I didn’t have access to a reliable computer during our trip (a choice we made before we left), Shimon wrote about our first meeting. We looked forward to reading it as soon as we got back home. Quite a few great memories in those few pictures and words.
And that was just the beginning of the trip.
Goddess and I are much richer for have met Shimon in person.