After lunch, we hopped back on the bus and wove through the streets of Jerusalem into the mountains. Our destination was Hadassah Medical Center. It is an extensive hospital system that treats patients regardless of nationality or ability to pay. While the hospital was being built, the women of Hadassah, an American group of fundraisers, wanted something special for their synagogue. In a leap of faith, they sought out Marc Chagall, the famous Russian-Jewish artist who was working in Paris at the time. Over tea, they asked him for one window to be donated at his expense. He was silent throughout the presentation and responded with, “What took you so long?” Chagall had been waiting for an opportunity to serve his Jewish people. He said he would provide not one window, but twelve, one for each of the tribes. Chagall spent several years researching and crafting these beautiful windows, even developing new glass staining technique. They were first displayed at the Louvre in Paris and MOMA in New York before their final installation in Jerusalem.
Enjoy the beauty!!
Trivia Time: When four were damaged in the Six Days War of 1967, Chagall repaired them…almost. He chose to leave a reminder of the war. In the Issachar window, the donkey has a patch of purple in his green side. You can see a small white hole. This is a piece from the original window. Ironically, Issachar is known for being the most peace loving of all the tribes.
The imagery and symbolism for each tribe’s window was explained through an audio presentation and is found at Hadassah Medical Center. I was able to pick out some of the symbols, but certainly not all. My favorite was Asher, who my son is named after. Our time in the synagogue was peaceful and inspiring. It marked the second religion of the day, Judaism, following our earlier visit to the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, but we weren’t done yet.
On the drive home, we caught a much better view of Ein Karem. This is a Christian site…all three Abrahamic religions in one day. Ein Karem is the site commemorating Elizabeth and Mary’s meeting while they were both pregnant. As told in Luke, John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb as Mary with Jesus in her womb entered the house. This is not terribly far from Jerusalem as Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah was a priest, but extremely far for Mary to have traveled from Nazareth, by herself and pregnant. It was a beautiful church that glistened as we wound around the mountain road.