Thursday 21 March 2019

At breakfast Yelana told me that they are happy that I'm there with them.  This would had been a surprise to many people in my neighborhood, but to my friends, it is not.

All Arabs and Jews are descendants of Abraham, but by different mothers. Sarah is the mother of the Jews and Hagar of the Arabs.  Isaac was born to Sarah and Ishmael to Hagar.

We went to a Russian monastery in Hebron.  The Arabs don't like it, but they tolerate it.  Citizens of Israel can't go there.  In the city they live by Sharia, Haij, Mecca, or Muslim law.  There is no terrorism there because there are no Jews there.  So you can call it a safe city.

Hebron is the fourth holy city in Israel.  The other are Jerusalem, Tiberias, and Safed.  Hebron is important because Abraham is buried here.  Similar to Mecca, this city is closed to non-Muslims. 

In the 19th century the Russians had a wise and intelligent archimandrite.  Since St. Helen found the true Cross, she built four churches and one was here in Hebron where Abraham lived.  The people showed the archimandrite the forest and he asked what this true was and they told him.  He managed to buy the land.

The Church of Abraham and Sarah, where we prayed, is the only Christian presence of this region of Hebron.  In Sinai there is only the monastery of St. Catherine.  In the middle of the monastery is a Muslim temple.

There is a security guard at the door to the monastery here.  He is a Muslim Shiek.  He made coffee for us.

It is very rare to see a church dedicated to Abraham and Sarah.  There are two in Russia, one in Greece, and one here.  This church was built as a house, not a church.  It was consecrated during the British period of Israel.  When the Turkish government was here, it was not possible.  It is not government supported.  are the benefactors.

Here Fr. Roman read the story of Abraham.  The landscape looks like it did 4,000 years ago.  A roof is a place for utility things like water boiler, solar panels, etc.

Bethlehem is first in the book of Ruth.  She was not a Jew.  She was the grandmother of King David who was born in Bethlehem.

Israel allows Palestinian territories to have their own police.  It is an autonomy territory in Israel.  Jews have their own army but the Arabs don't.  Some times Jews also shoot at autos.  They ave the right to protect themselves and their families and can shoot.  Often they learn that it is an innocent person.

The conflict between Jews and Arabs doesn't impact pilgrimages.  We are completely safe, even safer than in the United States.  Currently there is no tension between the Jews and Arabs.

We went to an Orthodox bazaar.  The owner is the president of the Russian community.  I made my selection and went to the cashier.  He seemed to ignore my discount card and not pay attention to what he was bagging for me. I was getting a little worried.  When he finished, he said, "This is our gift to you."

We then went to the Church of the Nativity.  Fr. Seraphim met us and escorted us into the church and took the names for prayers.  This church was never closed from the time it was built.  The cave where Jesus was born is under the Altar.

There is also a cave dedicated to the Holy Innocents.  At the church I talked with a Romanian priest who told me the sad news that Bishop Vasili of Cluz had brain surgery about two years ago and he can't serve Liturgy.

We also went to St. Sava Monastery.  It was he who created the order of services.
 

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Fr. Andrei and our bus driver

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The front entrance to our hotel

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We went shopping in Hebron.

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I was amused by the American products here.

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The bicycle in the front of the store reminds me of Baltimore.

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We are inside the church.

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The monastery is in great need of repair.

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The bread which Fr. Roman purchased. It was really hot and delicious.

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This guard picket made me appreciate America more. It also reminded me of my job as a corrections officer in Otey TX.

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The Orthodox Bazaar which we visited

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Yes, this is Israel and not America.

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Curch of the Nativity

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One of two Romanian priests who told me about Bishop Vasili of Cluj.

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"It's easy to get to Bethlehem. Take a donkey. That's how Mary and Joseph got there." This is what Fr. Basil told me when I told him about my trip to Bethlehem PA for a wedding.

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We had magnificent scenery the whole time.

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If you don't realize it, I love cats.

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