Your Chance to Touch the Western Wall

Many will never have the opportunity to go to Israel and actually visit the Western Wall, the holiest place on earth for the Jewish people.  It is a very moving place, and one I find to be extremely bitter-sweet.  (Here is a live cam…check it out!)

“Sweet” because no people group on earth is any more passionate for their God than the Jewish people.  There are those who visit the wall every day, praying fervently to the God of Israel, and desiring to connect with Him.

“Bitter” because most are “so close, yet so far” from recognizing the Jewish rabbi named Jesus who came as their Messiah.  Luke 19:44 tells us they “did not recognize the time of their visitation.”  But one day they will recognize Him and the wall will be but a shadow of the real thing!

Image result for western wall museum of the bibleToday, however, to go there is a very great privilege.  But, for those who may never be able to go to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has brought a large piece of the wall (and about 800 other artifacts) to the US!  Now housed in the newly-opened Museum of the Bible in Washington DC, a one-ton stone from the Western wall is on display, and visitors are encouraged to actually touch the stone to “connect” to what it might be like to be at the wall.

Related imageAnother “connection” to Israel is the mock village of Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus.  With its realistic look and feel, including staff members dressed as citizens of Nazareth in Jesus’ day, the Bible comes to life as one examines what life in that small village was like.

I am most grateful to the Museum of the Bible, as they are active co-sponsors of Christian Leaders Seminars hosted by Christian Friends of Yad Vashem.  (Yad Vashem is the Holocaust Museum and Research Center in Jerusalem.)  By the grace of God, I was invited to attend one of those seminars a couple years ago and it greatly bolstered my knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust and modern-day treatment of the Jewish people.  During our annual refreshers in Washington DC, I had the honor of touring the Museum of the Bible twice (before it opened to the public) and can attest first-hand to the quality of the museum.

If you have the opportunity to travel to Israel, by all means do so!  However, if that is not possible, I urge you to visit the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.  The 480,000 square foot Bible museum obviously houses much more than Israel-related exhibits.  However, the “touch of Israel” is significant and the museum is absolutely incredible.  Don’t miss an opportunity to see it!

(Many thanks to my friends at Yad Vashem and Museum of the Bible!)

Judaism Takes a Prominent Place in the Newly-Opened Museum of the Bible

I’m pausing this afternoon from our ongoing mini-study regarding Jesus’ return.  So, if you’re looking for that study (which began on Thursday), the next post will be tomorrow (Sunday) morning.

However, the long-awaited Museum of the Bible just opened in Washington DC, and there is ample recognition of the Bible’s foundation in Judaism.  The Jerusalem Post released an article focusing on that.

I had the privilege of taking two behind-the-scenes tours during construction of the Museum of the Bible, and can tell you it is a marvelous place!  (I shared a bit of detail here.)  The 8-story, 430,000sf  museum is considerably larger than the neighboring National Air and Space Museum (which houses aircraft, among other things).  From the upper floors, one gets an incredible view of the US Capital Building.

The museum is incredibly high-tech and the Bible is unashamedly the central focus throughout.  But, rather than trying to describe its many features, I’ll direct you to this virtual fly through:

 

You will find more info, such as floor-by-floor overviews, construction time lapse video, and other interesting media here.

Though admittedly not an “evangelistic” museum, its quality and focus on God’s Word makes it a museum of which Christians can be proud, and I highly recommend it.  Let’s pray that, as millions visit the museum, they will be encouraged to open THE BOOK!

PS: Museum of the Bible is a critical partner with Christian Friends of Yad Vashem, helping to educate Christians about the history of the Jews and why we should stand with them.

It’s a Wrap!

A fantastic weekend, filled with learning and reconnecting with friends, is now behind me.  On Sunday, we closed out our reunion with panel discussions regarding what various graduates are doing with what we have learned.  With graduates from 2010-2017, the spectrum, scope and degree varies widely.  Almost all of us are teaching and/or sharing about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in one way or another.  Some have positions within churches or large ministries where the messages are interwoven into the fabric of the church or ministry’s vision.  Others have platforms of a different kind, such as TV broadcasting, hosting tours to Israel, and even importing/exporting goods from small Israeli communities to help them economically.  One thing is certain: there is great love for Israel, and a common desire to do what we can to combat anti-Semitism that is so much alive and well today.

Time and space prohibited me from sharing casual tidbits and photos over the past few days, but I’ll share a few now…

2017-0811 MOTB EntranceFirst, a few interesting photos from the Museum of the Bible.  The 5 story building is a former warehouse that once had a train track running through it.  Because it is an historic building, they refurbished the exterior to keep much of the character of the building.  For example, large doors on the former loading docks have been turned into windows, and the large entrance where the train pulled into the building is now the entrance to the museum.  On either side of the entrance are 40’-tall, 2.5-ton bronze panels with Genesis 1 from the Gutenberg Bible inscribed on them.  (Bibles were first mass produced on the Gutenberg printing press.)  The impressive entrance will undoubtedly be the landmark by which the museum will be recognized.  Special lighting will illuminate those bronze panels to make them stand out even more.  Crews finished installing those panels the day before our tour!

The museum is jam-packed with features too numerous to mention, but here are a few:

  • The upper floors have a fantastic view of the Capital building, only 3-4 blocks away.
  • Museum of the Bible commissioned the “Drive thru History” folks to shoot2017-0811 MOTB History of the Bible footage in and around Israel for a section in the museum, as well as for video production.  (You may recognize Dave Stott, the tour guide on that series, and a replica of the famous Jeep in that series is being assembled!)  In the “it’s a small world” category, I was privileged to meet the guys behind the cameras when they accompanied Del Tackett on a Grand Canyon video shoot I went on several years ago.  Later, I had a very small part in editing some of the material on the “Drive thru the Holy Land” series.  (Yes, my name is in the credits, but you have to look quickly!)
  • The administrative offices are on the top floor, and include temporary living quarters for visiting scholars, researchers, etc.
  • Another section of the museum will include a “flyby” of Scriptural references that2017-0811 MOTB Flyby Platform-crop adorn US government buildings all over Washington DC.  The machine, designed to make guests feel like they’re flying, was developed for the Museum of the Bible, but will soon be used for different types of effect at various other attractions around the US and the world.  You see the triangular frame of that contraption in the accompanying photo.  It just arrived for installation.
  • While touring, we entered a room in which Cary Summers warned us firmly against taking any pictures or video. Why?  Some of Disney’s finest have been hired to produce some very high-tech graphics for a surround theater.  Those guys were busy at work on some highly-technical, computerized equipment!

2017-0813 WHOn Sunday, we had a 2-hour lunch break, so I made my way one mile down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.  A very large crane adorned the front lawn, presumably part of the major remodeling the President is having done in the Oval Office and other parts of the White House!  However, I joined the throng of people on the opposite side taking selfies!  (My first ever!)

So, what does a museum and the White House have to do with Israel?  Well, stop and think…no Israel, no Bible!  Also, Museum of the Bible is a very active partner with Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and Research Center.  Not only will they share resources, but MOTB is a major sponsor of the Christian Leadership Conferences and Reunions.  In fact, at last year’s reunion, we witnessed the signing of a joint declaration of cooperation between the two!  What a fantastic partnership.

And the White House?  Well, I will always make a point of going there to pray for our President when I am in DC, and one prayer I always include is that our President and our government will bless Israel, as Genesis 12:3 exhorts us to do!  I hope you will do the same!

Blessings from Washington DC!

Incredible Teaching, a Museum Tour, Meeting New Friends, and Celebrating Shabbat

Welcome back friends!  If you missed yesterday’s post, let me put things in context.  I have gathered with about 200 fellow graduates of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem’s Leadership Conference held in Jerusalem.  This reunion/refresher provides an opportunity to fellowship with classmates, and network with new people from other classes (between 2010-2017).

Yesterday’s sessions were amazing, but time and space do not allow me to give you all the details, so here are some highlights:

  • Shaya Ben Yahuda led us through “Leaders and Leadership in Times of Crisis,” using heroic leaders from the Holocaust as examples. For example, Dr Janusz Korczak lived in Poland and wanted to help re-build Zion (Israel).  However, he could not leave his family, including two orphanages full of children, to go to Israel.  So, one of the orphanages became a Jewish children’s orphanage in the Krakow ghetto.  He refused to leave “his” children when the Nazis came for them, so he went to the concentration camp with them, and later met his demise.  A survivor later stated that his years in the orphanage were the best years of his life.  Despite hardships in life, Dr Korczak showed real leadership by not abandoning his people.  Rather, he motivated them to live life to the fullest, in spite of the circumstances.
  • Stephanie Kaye, one of Yad Vashem’s most highly-esteemed educators, then shared about the art and artists of the Holocaust. It is well-documented that “life went on” in the ghettos and concentration camps that imprisoned Jews.  When taken from their homes, and limited on what they were allowed to take, Jews had the foresight to think about what things would be helpful in continuing to live life.  Many took art supplies, musical instruments, and even school supplies in order to make life as “ordinary” as possible in the most extraordinarily evil places humanly imaginable.  Life went on, and many clung to the hope that brought.  We were told that when a person is born and when they die is destiny…you have very little say in the matter.  However, how you live in between makes all the difference.  Many of those headed for gas chambers chose LIFE until their final breath.  These were real people, with real faces, who lived to the end.
  • Ephraim Kaye, Director of International Seminars, then shared the “back story” of bringing together an American Jewish fighter pilot with survivors from Auschwitz, following liberation. We then saw the newly-completed documentary about the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, in which that American Jewish fighter pilot was part of a ceremony in Poland where an Israeli F-15 fighter group “fly over” put the exclamation point on that victory.  It was a moving story.  (I’ll share the video link once I have it.)

Yesterday afternoon we were blessed to spend two hours on a “behind the scenes” tour of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.  Scheduled to open later this year, the museum is one of the most high-tech in the world.  Rather than describe the technology, I’ll let you see for yourself.  Visit Museum of the Bible for a look at the God-honoring museum that stands only blocks from the Capital building.

2017-0811 C Summers Leading Tour MOTB

Cary Summers Leading Tour of Museum of the Bible (to open later this year)

As noted previously, Museum of the Bible co-sponsors these Yad Vashem conferences, and Cary Summers (President of Museum of the Bible) has been with us all weekend.  (Word is that next year’s reunion will take place in the conference space at Museum of the Bible!)  Mr Summers has one of the most incredible resumes on the planet when it comes to designing Bible-based museums and entertainment venues.  If you are familiar with Answers in Genesis’ Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, you know of his design work!  In fact, if you are familiar with Silver Dollar City, Bass Pro Shop, or Nazareth Village (in Israel), you have seen his work.  Yesterday, Cary himself guided us through the Museum of the Bible!  I encourage you to find out more about the museum, and make plans to visit.  Believe it or not, admission to the museum will be a $15 “suggested donation!”  (ie – anyone who cannot afford admission gets in anyway)  How do you put a value on the Word of God!?!

On a personal, though very much related note, I finally connected with a young Jewish woman with whom I was introduce several months ago.  Talya lives here in Washington DC and was gracious enough to meet me for lunch yesterday.  It was a meeting of kindred hearts.  Our time was limited, but we shared our appreciation of Jewish-Christian relations and the need to develop them further.  It was a blessed time!  Talya is VP of Development & Strategic Partnerships for Haym Salomon Center, a journalistic organization putting Jewish causes at the forefront of the news (where “traditional” news outlets won’t).

Finally, it is Shabbat, you know!  We ended our evening last night with Shabbat dinner, including a conversation with Holocaust survivor, Luna Kaufman.  Nothing better than 200 or so Israel-loving believers sharing a most precious celebration with our Jewish friends from Israel!  Praise God for the opportunity!

Blessings to all…and Shabbat Shalom!