Mary Rothkopf of Temple Beth El and Dana Mitchell of Myers Park Baptist visit Jerusalem
Eight gates lead into the Old City of Jerusalem.
One of them, Zion Gate, built in 1540, was the scene of ferocious fighting during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. On the gates doorpost is a mezuzah a box containing extracts from the Torah that was made from some of the bullet casings.
But for the interfaith group from Charlotte, Zion Gate became a place to dance.
A pair of street musicians playing Hava Nagila with a stringed oud and a drum-like riq was all it took. The strolling pilgrims broke into the hora, an Israeli circle dance.
Mary Rothkopf, 74, had been doing the dance since she was a young Hebrew school student back in Scranton, Pa. It was a must at Jewish weddings, bar mitzvahs and any other celebration that called for a jolt of joy.
But this was different, this was better: They were doing it in Israel. And Marys new Christian friends were joining in.
Dana Mitchell, for one.
A retired phys-ed teacher, she had taught the hora years ago to her grade schoolers. And even at 67, Dana a ballet and tap student as a kid couldnt resist moving with this Middle Eastern music.
One of her goals for the trip, this member of Myers Park Baptist had said before the plane took off from Charlotte, was to make new friends.
And so she was.
As they circled and circled some more, Dana and Mary couldnt help thinking that the dancing was a sign that, whatever their different traditions and beliefs, these Christians and Jews were forging friendships destined to last well beyond the flight home. End online only
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