The Shuk in Jerusalem
Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is —
“Chag Sameach!” or Joyous Holy-day from Jerusalem, dear sisters and brothers. BLESSINGS IN THE LIGHT OF YESHUA to each of you. To the Light of His Face may we be drawn and in that Light may we be changed by Him and for HIS glory Alone. May He be blessed and glorified and may you be blessed and encouraged.
I wondered what I would do. This year, for the first time, I did NOT seem to have Sukkot (feast of tabernacles) on my mind or in my heart. WHAT TO DO?
“LORD HELP!” I prayed.
Since we live in this apartment, it is difficult to make our merepesset (balcony) into a sukka, and with my husband away, the difficulty is compounded.
He left for England to visit our older daughter and family early yesterday morning. I was up at 3 a.m. to have some time with the Lord and have his breakfast on the table by 4. We have a system here that I think is great: the sheroot. Any of you who have visited Israel will likely at this point roll your eyes, laugh, and remember a weird and harrowing ride to or from the airport.
Sheroots are generally 9-11 seater vans that pick you and your luggage up at your apartment for about a third of the price of a taxi. Only, the drivers are humorous and sometimes grumpy total maniacs. It can be scary, downright terrifying for the uninitiated. The assortment of people, languages, and cultures in any given sheroot can be an education. The cell phones can be maddening. I find it funny.
The sheroot came to pick him up at APPROXIMATELY 5 a.m. A quick prayer and kiss and they were off…and there I stood.
It was still very quiet, except for the garbage truck. At 5:15, the second morning train appears and stops for 10 minutes in front of our apartment until the 5:30 schedule gets flowing. Public transportation here does NOT run through the night but stops at 11 or 12, depending upon the line, and begins again at 5:30 a.m. It also does not run on Shabat or holy days.
As I crossed in front of the train I glanced up to see the driver. She happened to be a woman and was intently powdering her nose in the mirror of the train. For some reason unknown to me, I began to breathe again and to feel some life come back into me and laugh.
Although I had been up for two hours already, I knew that much lay before me. I wouldn’t see my bed again for at least 15 hours.
One of our very dear brothers at Kehila lost his father on Yom Kippur. We knew that he was taking it hard. Despite MUCH prayer and sharing, and the fact that he was with his father when he passed, his father had not turned his life over to Yeshua before dying that he knew about. I knew his grief was deep. It is a common situation here sadly, painfully, to find ONE member of a family who knows Him. It is my situation still as well
I have explained before about the Schiva or the practice of sitting in a place of mourning for 7 days with the door open. EVERYONE comes to comfort you, to talk, share, remember, bringing food and eating WITH the grieving people. They do this so the mourning family can keep their strength up and also are distracted somewhat from focusing on their profound loss. In this case, because Sukkot is a high holyday, one commanded in scripture, they had to get up from thjeir mourning at noon today, so the schiva was shortened.
Our brother and his family live in Modiin, a town or small city half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It is over the green line so we need to go through check points. My dear sister, who is 83, offered to take me because we don’t have a car. I knew it was going to be interesting when she said, “I’m not sure how to get there but you can direct me and read the signs as I can’t see very well.”
I rode with her to Kehila on Shabbat so I know that she has a habit of just stopping in the middle of the road while she’s driving along the highway to decide if she’s going right. Armed with MUCH PRAYER, a 2005 map, and a vague address, we took off into the hills. An hour and a half later we were stopping people in the town asking for directions.
“Give me your phone, I’ll set up your way (the local GPS) for you,” said one young man when we showed him the map. He didn’t know what a map was. We handed him in our phones and he couldn’t figure out what THEY were either.
“I’ll photograph the directions for you,” he kindly told us, “where is the camera?”
The generation gap was physically tangible!
BUT being lost in Modiin had one great advantage. EVERYBODY and I mean EVERYBODY was busy building their sukkas, the old fashioned way AND I CAUGHT THE VISION AGAIN.
Here in Jerusalem over the years these sort of instant sukkas became more and more popular: either a plywood shack with a bamboo mat cover or pre-fab metal poles that hook together with prepared stamped design material walls. You know, a plastic Christmas tree approach.
When we first came to Jerusalem, everyone had palm frond roofs with rugs and assorted material walls. They were very creative and special. In Modiin people were everywhere carrying branches and palm fronds and woven rugs made the sides. I smiled dspite the fact that we were heading to a schiva to comfort our brother.
My joy increased as we sat in a full room, off to the side with our brother, and found that The Lord HAD INDEED been encouraging his heart and the victory was all over him. Our Lord is faithful! We had wonderful fellowship, encouraging one another with the faithfulness of The Lord. I came home alive, inspired, victorious and exhausted.
But there ARE sukkas everywhere here as well, pre-fab and not. They are in front of every restaurant, alongside the bus stops, at the supermarket, on sidewalks, housetops, in parks, and so forth. I, along with the other inhabitants of Jerusalem, have been delighted by what the Lite Rail has done, taking school children’s drawings and patterning them like a quilt design, printing them on a long strip like wallpaper. They plastered the ceilings of the train with these colorful rug designs. It’s delightful. I love to walk the dog at night and see the lights inside and the shadows of the families, laughter ringing out as they celebrate together in their homes. Many will sleep and eat there for the full 7 days.
Anyone can go into anyone’s sukka and just sit down and soon you are friends with everyone. It is a country of open houses right now as we participate in His pattern to: ‘REMEMBER WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US WHEN HE BROUGHT US OUT OF EGYPT WITH A STRONG OUTSTRETCHED ARM AND WE DWELT IN TEMPORARY, FLIMSY DWELLINGS.”
We get to look up at the vast sky filled with dreams of universes of stars through the God-made network of branches and tree limbs and remember how small and finite we are. He is HUGE and INFINITE!
HOW BLESSED WE ARE IN THIS! Would that we LEARN and bend our stiff necks to worship and not forget…
It was such a short time ago that I wrote to you about the almond blossoms and the tiny first buds of the rimon (pomegranate). Today as I arrived at work, the trees on the block were full of bursting red, ripe pomegranates. The almond tree in front of my work is dropping its ripe almonds.
The fullness of time HAS COME!
I am writing now BECAUSE I was alone tonight in my sort-a-non-sukka-sukka. When I walked the dog, we cut many leafy branches, including a couple of small palm fronds, olive branches, pomegranate branches, fig branches, but I couldn’t make a ceiling nor really hang up sides. So I assembled something leafy. We have a big leafy tree that hangs over our merepesset, so I look up and smile, and give thanks to HIM Who cares so tenderly and is so totally faithful, EVEN WHEN WE WALK THROUGH FIRES AND FLOODS, We must gaze at the gates of death.
So on this, the first night of Sukkot, I am finally off to bed. Thank you for taking the time to read, thank you for your love, thank you for the encouragement that I receive through many of you, but mostly, thank you for your prayers and for being a delight to Him Who is worthy.!
God BLESS you!
Lovingly, your sis