As the conflict in Syria heightened, reports of chemical weapons made international news. Just a week before our scheduled visit, there was some uncertainty whether to go forward with our plans to visit Israel. The USA, UK, Israel and Turkey all looked like they might become involved, willingly or unwillingly, in war with Syria. In the airport in Warsaw we had an intense interrogation with armed guards before boarding our flight to Tel Aviv.
We were somewhat doubtful how Krishna devotees would be received in Israel. Informed sources said that, contrary to what one might expect, the people of Israel are very receptive, especially to kirtan. So we took a chance and are glad we did.
The devotees warmly greeted us at the airport. They took good care of us and made arrangements for harinams, temple and public programs. The people who came to the programs were very enthusiastic to hear the philosophy and chant the Holy names.
The street kirtans were especially wonderful. People in Israel are naturally receptive. They immediately smile and many come and join the chanting and dancing. They easily accept the prasadam offered by the devotees and happily purchase books on the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness. We were thinking that this must be the harinam capital of the world.
A special treat was taking a tour of Jerusalem. A unique crossroads of world cultures, this land was host to many ancient cultures and religions. I found it fascinating to trace the history from ancient to modern times. The archaeological sites are nothing short of amazing.
We’ve had a couple of days to recuperate near the Dead Sea and get ready for the next leg of our travels. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur and it also coincides with Radhastami. About 75 devotees will gather with us to celebrate the divine appearance day of Srimati Radharani.
Photos credits: HH Indrayumna Swami (www.travelingmonk.com)