We next headed to Dan which is close to the Lebanon border, so we were very north in Israel. The springs of the Dan River flow beautifully clear water and Tel Dan is now a nature reserve funded by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. We hiked all along the water's edge and through ruins that date 5,000 years ago. The Canaanites had an altar for ritual sacrifices. At that altar we read scripture passages that relate to Dan, and there is an Abraham gate on site. Abraham's travels were extensive in this challenging land. All through the North are wonderful kibbutz resorts--quite a contrast of ancient and modern.
Our last stop was the town of Safed which is one of the four holy cities for Jews (Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed). It's the place of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah. The old city narrow streets were abuzz with band and people celebrating a young boy's bar mitzvah. We worked our way through the crowd to a synagogue where our guide explained the study and learning that takes place there. The Kabbalah method of reading the Torah scroll is different in that someone holds it upright while another reads. Normally a Torah scroll is read by unrolling the scroll on a special desk. We sat around in the synagogue learning as if we were Jews in that place. After a much too quick look in a few galleries, we headed to our bus. The town is filled with artists and many galleries. We could have spent a whole day there, for the Kabbalah method comes alive in the work of the artists. There was a sculpture created out of Holocaust suffering--a joyful picture of a mother lifting up her child with the sculpture title "Hope." There is indeed hope amongst the children of Abraham as we learn more about the other. What a privilege it is to continue that learning.