It’s Wednesday – November 12, 2014

Boker Tov, on the late side, from the NJ TPK, on my way home from JFK and the bike trip. My bike is nestled behind me, its journey also about over for now. The overnight flight was as good as it could be and provided ample time to write this column and continue my downward slide in the Solitaire rankings.

The ride ended nicely. The last leg was not too challenging except for the steep descent into Eilat during which a few winds gusts had my wheels sliding sideways at 30 mph and my heart beating erratically. The five old guys got to lead all the riders into Eilat, then it was the Red Sea dip and the bike disassembly and the final banquet (fleishigs to the extreme and pareve desserts beyond words) during which our Beth El group shared best moments, best meals, worst hills, whatever. Don’t be surprised if they try to sell you on doing the ride next year.

If you follow the news from Israel, you know that our time there coincided with the outbreak of a new kind of terrorism – random driving of vehicles into crowds of people waiting for the light rail, random shootings and stabbings, in the name of God knows what but ostensibly to protest settlement expansion and/ or prevent Israel from changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. Settlement expansion would no longer be a problem if there was serious interest in a peace deal, and there is no serious Israeli leader contemplating a change in Temple Mount regs.

It often felt surreal to be riding a bike for fun with the violence going on not so far away. Would it have been better if we had stopped riding? No, I think the Israelis understand that trying to live as normal a life as possible, despite it all, is the only real path. Agonizing over a possible solution to the conflict doesn’t lead very far either- all but the greatest optimists watch events like the summer war with Hamas in Gaza and despair of a way out of the hate and the turmoil the hate can unleash. As our cabbie in Eilat put it, “there is no solution.” Then he pointed to the airport and told us it was too small for all the flights using it and a new one was being built, and our little puddle jumper up to Ben Gurion was a full 757.

We were exiled from our Land for almost 2000 years. Maybe we slept better during that time, but persecutions (especially one recent one that took away a third of us) kept  reminding us that controlling our own fate is preferable. I am sure we didn’t know how challenging it would be to control our fate in that neighborhood as it has evolved. Maybe it won’t get better anytime soon. Maybe thinking “there is no solution” is not the way. I wish I had answers. All I am  sure about is that Israel is a miracle in so many palpable ways and we need to experience it and support it.

Thanks for tolerating my too frequent blogging. Next week we pick up a new thread.  Bill Rudolph

P.S. It is not too late to sign up for this Friday’s shul Shabbat dinner; contact Hattie at hgoodman@bethelmc.org. And the Israel Media Series continues Saturday night at 7:30 with the hottest new TV series, Shtisel; as usual no reservation is required.