The birthplace for three of the world's major religions have scores of Muslims, Christians and Jews arriving to follow in the footsteps of our histories. Being able to pray on the Temple Mount, at the Western Wall or at the Church of the Holy Selplechre brings a spiritual experience that is like no other.
Others come not from a religious impetus but from a cultural or historical curiosity and still others come because they love to travel and want to find the best falafel.
Whatever the reason visiting Israel leaves no one untouched.
I wholeheartedly admit that my favorite way of visiting Israel is with a mixed group-mixed in religion, background and interests. Everywhere you turn it is with a different lens, experience and enthusiasm. So it is true with this amazing group of some 44 people living in or related to Tucson.
The highlight for me in Tell Aviv was visiting Independence Hall where Ben Gurion announced the creation of the state of Israel. Let's just say it was good I came supplied with tissues.
In 1976 Israel was only 28 years old. .still an infant. I didn't appreciate how far the country had come in such a short time then, but certainly do now.
Remember the old fashioned ping pong machines? With the ball popping backwards and forwards? That's how my brain is here.
As I have been writing this a housekeeper came to clean our room and as is my wantout came a combo of Hebrew and Spanish (Rick calls it Hebranish). Turns out the housekeeper is an Arab woman who lived in Spain for many years who could much more easily converse in Spanish than in Hebrew. She also speaks English. The fact that this lovely woman who speaks a minimum of three languages is cleaning hotel rooms does nothing to lessen the ping pong.