A Rite of Passage

Imagine being 18 years old, fresh out of school, and forced to serve in the military. All your dreams are put on halt to protect your country from one of the most evil militant groups to date, ISIS…

If you are anything like me, my first thought was, “bring it on.” But, maybe you felt differently. Maybe you felt more terrified or angry.

This is exactly what the people of Israel face. Every girl and boy at the age of 18 are drafted into the IDF, Israel Defense Forces, to serve at least two years.

The IDF was founded in 1948 and has fought six major wars since. Although some may say that Israel lacks in size and has always been outnumbered by its enemies, they maintain an advantage by their weapons and high-caliber of soldiers.

Serving in the IDF has become a pivotal turning point for an Israeli. It is their rite of passage. These young adults experience what is it to be a faithful and good citizen, learning responsibility and practical skills.

What I love most about these soldiers is that they are taught to value all human life.

Human Dignity – The IDF and its soldiers are obligated to protect human dignity. Every human being is of value regardless of his or her origin, religion, nationality, gender, status or position. – IDF Code of Ethics

Even their enemies.

It is not uncommon that an IDF soldier or medic will save a wounded enemy. To me, that is such incredible character and strength. Not every military is indoctrinated with this.

The soldiers of the IDF are truly a melting pot. You will find a plethora of religious backgrounds, economic statuses, skin color and even disabilities. For example, the IDF accommodates those with autism. Those with autism may struggle with social development, but they excel in systematically oriented activities such as puzzles or  drawing. This also allows them to see the finer details in things. So, the IDF has placed those with autism in aerial analysis.

The IDF makes a place for everyone. Cool, right?

Here are some more interesting facts about the IDF:

  1. Soldiers do not deploy. They are dedicated to protecting the grounds and borders of Israel.
  2. They have a Women’s affairs program to ensure opportunities and foster a suitable environment for women.
  3. People from all over the world move to Israel to serve in the IDF. The IDF honors them by providing housing and other benefits.
  4. Their air force satellites are the only in existence that launch in the opposite direction of earth’s rotation.




7 Things You Didn’t Know About The Dead Sea

  1. It is the lowest place on earth: 1,300 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea has been given the lowest elevation. While driving there, you can even say you have been on the lowest road too: Highway 90.

    Photo from kidsbritannica.com
  2. Queen Cleopatra loved it: She traveled from Egypt to build a spa there because she believed in its healing properties. Today, people from all over the world stay for an extended visit (14 to 28 days) to allow the minerals to work. There have been many cases of eczema, acne, psoriasis, asthma, and arthritis being completely healed!

    Photo from youtube.com
  3. You can float: Ok, so maybe you already knew this, but how could I not share it? Being about six times saltier than the ocean, the high salt content makes you buoyant.

    Not only was this so fun, but it was insanely beautiful. Like, come on… look at that view of the Desert Jordan. Also, DO NOT shave before entering.. I learned the hard way…
  4. It’s 3 million years old: Inundated from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, forming in a crooked bay called Sedom lagoon. Floods and climate change eventually caused the lagoon to deposit salt beds.dead-sea1-1Photo from dhakatribune.com
  5. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found here: Go figure. In 1947, a Bedouin (Arabic nomads) boy was searching for his lost goat. Some say he threw a rock, heard a ding and discovered a pot with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Others says he simply walked upon it! The cave it was located in is now identified as Qumran Cave 1. deadseascrolls

    Photos from bibleplaces.com and irelandsown.ie
  6. It creates asphalt: It bubbles up from seeps in the bottom of the lake (oh yeah, the Dead Sea is actually a lake.) Ancient Egyptians imported the asphalt and used it in their mummification process.

    Photo from lifedaily.com
  7. Scientists have found life: For thousands of years, it has been deemed the sea with no life, hence the name. The salt content is too high to accommodate fish and plant life but, there has been a recent discovery. Bacteria.

    Photo from livescience.com


Oops.. I Almost Got Arrested

The Temple Mount.

The gathering place for Jews to encounter Yahweh, via the priest.

Today, however, things are quite different.

Here is the problem: Although Jews and Muslims agree that this is the place, Mount Moriah, where Abraham offered to sacrifice Isaac, Muslims also believe that is the place where the Prophet Mohammed, accompanied by the Angel Gabriel, made the Night Journey to the Throne of God. This makes it the third holiest site for Muslims. After years of wars and the destruction of The Temple, Muslims have built a mosque, The Dome of the Rock, replacing The Temple. The Temple Mount is now run by Muslim authorities.


Today, an Islamic Waqf, or religious committee, manages the Temple Mount, though Israel provides security and upholds decisions made by the waqf about access to the site. – Jewish Virtual Library

So, basically the Waqf has an opinion and can terrorize, but at the end of the day.. they don’t have the final say.

What is interesting is that Israel has decided to go along with some of their rules in order to refrain from offending them. For example, any non-muslim prayers are prohibited on Temple Mount grounds. Jews can’t pray. Christians can’t pray. You can’t bring in a Bible. You can’t even talk of scripture. Also, non-Muslims, and specifically Jews, are prohibited to enter during certain times.

Here is my story:

Like most places in Israel, I had to go through security before entering.

It was a bit intimidating this time though. The security guard had zero emotion in his face and hard eyes. Although I don’t actually know what he was thinking, his body language, or lack there of, told me I wasn’t welcomed. I placed my bag on the table for him to check. Of course I wasn’t scared he would find anything. Honestly, I didn’t even remember what was in my bag. Maybe my wallet, phone and some gum?

I see him begin to smirk. He turns around to his buddies and speaks in arabic. They all laugh.

Ok? I feel awkward. I’m just going to ignore it.

I reach for my bag when he places his hand inside and takes out… deodorant… they all start laughing again.


My face turned bright red. I guess this was funny to them, but I mean hey, I gotta do what I gotta do… it’s over 100 degrees outside.

Embarrassed, I grabbed the deodorant and stuffed it in my bag. I couldn’t help but laugh at this point too.

Up ahead I see a rickety bridge that lead to the Temple Mount gate. It was made out of wood planks that allowed me to see The Western Wall (the wailing wall) underneath.

I see Jewish men, women and children praying with all their might. It was so beautiful and so peaceful. Little did I know it was the calm before the storm.

As soon I step foot into the Temple Mount a man grabs my arm and pulls me over to the side. I am suddenly cornered by at least five men with machine guns strapped to their backs. If I am being completely honest, I went on this trip as a naive and uninformed American.. So, my first thoughts were… ISIS.

My eyes frantically scanned for my group leader and my heart was beating out of my chest. I could feel my hands and feet go numb and the sweat dripping to my eyebrows.

I knew that deodorant would come in handy…

The men were yelling at me in broken english, “Too skinny, too skinny.”

I am too skinny to be on The Temple Mount? That makes no sense. What I didn’t realize is that they were telling me my clothes were inappropriate. I had a loose, striped dress on that went up to my neck, down to my knees and passed my wrists. I had leggings on underneath and my hair was in a wrap.

They kept motioning for me to follow them down a corridor. Should I obey them? Will I get in trouble if I don’t? As I battle the two options in my head, my group leader runs over.

I’m ok. I can breathe.

There is a battle in Arabic going on. I have no idea what he said to them, but it shut them up quick. A kind older woman from my group took her scarf off her shoulder and wrapped me in it. The entire group circled around me as we continued to walk throughout the Temple Mount.

Walking away, I turned around to catch one more glimpse of the chaos. I saw several Muslim women wearing the same outfit as me, peacefully making their way to the Dome of the Rock.


My group leader, who is a dear family friend and Jew who lives in Israel, later told me that they simply chose to terrorize me for these three things; I am young. I am Jewish. I am a woman. I was an easy target, or so they thought.

Making our way to the other side of The Temple Mount, we stopped underneath some trees to talk. Our guide began speaking of the history on the grounds. It was amazing. It is apart of my heritage and the foundation of my faith. There is just one issue, you can’t possibly explain this place without quoting scripture. It is what it’s all about.

Quietly and nonchalantly our guide did just that. I was so captured by the connection I was making with where I was and what I have read in my bible for all these years that I didn’t realize a Muslim guard had walked up behind me. In fact, no one realized.

The guard spoke up and loudly.

“What are you all talking about? Are you quoting scripture? Do you want to get escorted out?”

“We are speaking of history,” said my guide.

If the guard knew that my guide had a kippah (yamaka) under his ball cap, the situation would have escalated further.

He began cursing at us, screaming that this was HIS holy place, not ours. This was HIS mosque, not ours. We even had an older woman in the group try to sit on the ground because she was so tired. He yelled at her to get up because “She doesn’t deserve to sit here.” It was so sad. I knew this lady personally. She had overcome and pushed through many health issues to get there. She was struggling that day and the guards wouldn’t allow her any relief.

At this point I was furious. Is there no respect for human life by these people?

As these thoughts are flying through my mind, I see a Jewish couple walking through the courtyards. Guards are completely surrounding them, watching their every move. They won’t even let them talk. It just looked ridiculous. That is the best way I can describe it. These men kept targeting the most innocent of people just to be a bother, just to terrorize. And they get away with it everyday.

This isn’t right. These are Yahweh’s people. This is Yahweh’s holy place. What can I do to make a difference? I suddenly felt the burden to be a voice for the Jews.

The media will tell you that the middle east conflict is being handled peacefully, but I can tell you that there is no peace, only persecution.

If you believe that Jews have the right to pray and worship God on The Temple Mount, please consider signing this petition…Cry for Zion.

I have.

I’m Home

May 7, 2016 was the day.

I was about to emerge myself in a culture I have always dreamt of knowing.


My story of Israel and the Jews begins years ago. I can remember reading Zachariah 2:8 as a child and weeping. The Israelites were the apple of God’s eye? Well, what about me? I want to be the apple of God’s eye. I wish I was Jewish.

Zachariah 2:8 “For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:”

When I think about that moment, I can’t help but giggle. I was just a child. I didn’t fully understand the verse or the context, but I longed to just sit in Abba’s lap. I wanted that tight-knit relationship with my creator.

As time went on, a family member of mine traced our history. During the holocaust, my great-great-great-grandfather was a Rabbi from Lithuania. He took his family and fled to Ellis Island to escape Hitler’s rule. They survived and one of his sons eventually married a Baptist preachers daughter, which is why my mother’s side of the family are born again Christians.

My great-great-great-grandfather. Although we don’t know his first name, his last name is Kaplan.

What? Did I just hear this right? I’m actually Jewish?

After a 15+ hour plane ride, the bell rang for everyone to take their seat belt off and I stood up to stretch my legs. I grabbed my bag and attempted to steady my breathing. It didn’t work. I was just too excited.

The blazing sun blinded my eyes as I walked out of the airport. I put my hand over my face until they adjusted…. my jaw dropped. I was in awe of how beautiful Israel was. Why had no one told me? It was like this well-kept secret or something. You hear about Hawaii, Italy, California or China, but Israel? I had no idea.

There are rolling mountains of sand contrasting with the pastel blue sky. Not to mention you could perfectly see the sun and moon at the same time. The tall palm trees and lush crops were blowing in the wind. The crashing waves from the mediterranean sea. Stone walls that were thousands of years old. Precious Jewish and Muslim families going about their day eating humus and falafel. Everything was perfect.

And to think the saviour of the world walked the same streets.

I truly felt like I belonged there, a connection I can’t adequately describe.

I was Home.

Each week I will be posting a new adventure and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Coming soon: "Oops.. I almost got arrested on The Temple Mount..."