Dec. 4, 2019 Chapter 30 (Photos by Steve Martin in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel on Rosh Hashana)
The first day of Rosh Hashanah*, Sept. 30, 2019 was a Monday. With Shabbat concluding the previous Saturday evening, and only the first day of the week (Sunday) in between, Jerusalem was enjoying a very quiet beginning of the two-day Jewish new year celebration on the Hebrew calendar.
When planning the trip in the spring, I wasn’t aware that it was a two-day holiday. If I had, I would not have chosen to be in Jerusalem due to the shut down of much of the city. No stores open. No schools. Restaurants close to where we were staying at 33 King George St., just a few blocks down Hallel Street, were open. So, in time we went to the hamburger place and had a $17 dollar burger with fries. That was a bit of an expense jolt, but the food was good!
The synagogues (shuls) were open, and we saw many Orthodox Jews, the men all dressed in black and white with the women in black and white dresses, typically with 3-5 kids following along on foot. walking to the gatherings each morning. With the streets free of rushing cars and the normally packed, long green city buses, you could, if you wanted to, walk in the street. But don’t do that.
Except for the Arab and other non-Jewish cab drivers, all was well.
Rosh Hashanah is that holiday when the shofar (trumpet as translated in many versions of the English Bibles) is blown. Having heard that this would particularly also happen at the Western Wall, I wanted to get there. The synagogues were also the place, and though I have been in several, the Kotel (Wall) was where I wanted to go.
As I was preparing to walk out of the apartment door, David Lauka said he wanted to join me, so off we went. Knowing the city quite well after being here now 22 times, I knew the shortest way eastward to the Old City. But of course, we had to first get a fresh cup of morning coffee, brewed Israeli style, and where would that be found? On Hallel Street! Aroma Café was open as usual.
Knowing another great walk was up ahead, my camera was properly placed in my back pocket before heading out. I like the size of the Canon Powershot, with it’s great still shot and video capabilities, so as if my best friend, it followed me everywhere.
With then coffee in hand, we cut across the city park nearby, passed the former location of the US Consulate (thanks President Trump for moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv!) and made our way to the Western Wall, this time through the Armenian quarter. I did my “tour guide” impression with David as we did.
Arriving before 9 am, when we had heard the shofars would be blown, we took our place in the plaza where the eye-level dividing “wall” separates the main plaza from the prayer sections below. Again. I began taking video and photos as usual, until a nice young girl came up and told me, “Not today, please.” On Shabbat and special days, photography is frowned upon in Jerusalem.
When we got back to the corner of the street to get the other two guys and begin the day with them (by 10 am my day is typically well into the 6th or 7th hour), a taxi drove up and stopped in front of us.
“Nice shirt”, he said after rolling down his window.
Always one to strike up a conversation with another when in Israel, I replied, “Yes, I fully support our President, and know Israel does too. So, I like wearing t-shirts with Trump’s name on it.” This one read, “Trump 2020” emblazed across my proud chest.
Then Nouri, whom I found to be a real delight the next four hours, first had David and I on a really nice trip to the Mount of Olives, overlooking the multitudes of Jewish graves on the mountain across from the Eastern Gate, before we came back and got Greg and Lathan.
During our time with Nouri Hawa, the native Jerusalemite of Armenian descent, he gave us the accurate history of the Jewish city, took us to many of the featured sites one always like to go to, and beyond. Being with one who knows how to get around in a car, I loved it!
And just now, as I am writing, how pleasant it was to have just spoken to him on FaceTime when I was looking up the proper spelling of his name in my phone contact list and hit the button by mistake! He was in Bethlehem! Dec. 4, 2019, at 4:10 am as I am writing this chapter. True!
With his contagious smile and energetic personality, it was fun hearing about his personal life too, especially how he drove 10 hours or more a day to put his twin daughters through college. Then he told the story of how he met the Christian radio host and speaker Christine Darg, co-founder at the Jerusalem Channel and Founder of Christine Darg’s Exploits Ministry. Knowing her as a friend on Facebook, I was already familiar with her ministry and listened intently to him explain this “God-appointed” time in his life. Amazing!
Certainly, I had to get all this on video to share with you, so you can see the 10 short videos on our YouTube channel, Steve Martin/Love For His People, along with the other 55 videos on this playlist ahava adventure with the four Louis brothers.
The YouTube channel full playlist for this adventure is entitled “Louis Brothers – Israel – Sept./Oct. 2019” Check it out!
I could write two or three chapters on just our time with Nouri that day, and as I told him on the phone this morning, I look forward to having my good wife Laurie meet him, along with Bob and Mary Smith of Charleston, South Carolina, who will be with me in May 2020 in Jerusalem.
As an overview, Nouri took us around the City of David, out the back road to Bethlehem where we went to one of the remaining Christian-owned olive wood gift shops in that city, and had us meet another tour guide who walked us through the Church of the Nativity, the location of Jesus’/Yeshua’s birth.
Packed as usual with tourists from all over the world, many standing in line inside the massive Catholic church for hours, I was appreciative that this well-trained guide made a way with security to let at least Lathan (1st time here) see the spot known as the place most likely Mary and Joseph were that spring night, when shepherds were out in the fields and the angels appeared to them. He had to go through the side, backway.
And no, it wasn’t on December 25 as we have so long been taught, when Yeshua was born. That date was selected as the birth date in the 3rd century by the Christian theologian Hippolytus of Rome. There is plenty of research that has been written on that, so look it up.
Most likely Jesus arrived on earth as man, born as a human child around Passover. He was and still is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world. He came to live and die in order for us to die and then live again, in rebirth. (John 3:16)
After rejoining Nouri, he took us to a “non-tourist, where the locals eat” very small shawarma restaurant, where we had the best!
When you go with me on a men’s ahava adventure, I will have him take us there again.
I encourage you to watch the videos, again on our Love For His People YouTube channel (Steve Martin). You will be glad you did!
With only a few chapters to go for the completion of this, my 25th book, I trust the Lord has given you a piece of His heart for Israel and the Jewish people. As they continue to make aliyah, immigrating back to their homeland as so many Hebrew prophets had said would happen in these end of days, you can see with your own eyes how the Living God of Israel, Yeshua HaMashiach, is rapidly preparing for His return, to take up His rightful throne in Jerusalem.
May His Holy Spirit, Ruach HaKodesh, become continually more real in your life, as He longs to open your eyes and ears to the move of the Lord that is coming upon the earth and has already begun. First the natural, in Israel, and then the spiritual, in the Church, the Body of Christ, Messiah.
*There are several ways to spell feast days and other names in Hebrew. Take your pick!