Category Archives: Places

Day Twelve

My last day in DC was an eventful one. I had to go pick up my passport from the Israeli embassy the day after the two bombings overseas at Israeli embassies. Security was tighter and I had to wait an extra hour before I was aloud to enter because of a “security situation” they were handling. But the wait was fine because there is a bad ass park IN the district that I went and walked around in (Rock Creek Park for those who are going – it is worth checking out just don’t wear cowboy boots…)

I then went to Arlington Cemetery. I figured that I had been to the district enough to warrant a visit. While the history was interesting and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier fascinating, I’ve decided that I’m in no hurry to go back to any cemeteries. I think there is too much to see outside of them to visit for anything other than a mourner/family member to go pay respects. I also was thinking about death and about one family member who, in my opinion, fears death. I don’t fear it and I was wondering why. I think I don’t fear death because it is the one thing that everyone, regardless of background or status, is going to be successful at. Life, on the other hand, is something that people could be afraid of. Success at life is by no means guaranteed. Food for thought I guess.

I then went to have lunch with my good friend Ryan who is definitely succeeding at life. He is working for a great cause in a great city and it seems like he has great things going on in his life. It is really cool to be able to travel to another city and catch up with old friends.

Then the day was wrapped up with a little people watching in Union Station and a train ride with Scott back out to West Virginia.  Scott definitely saved me while I was waiting for my passport.

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Day Ten

The great plague of DC has claimed its last victims and is now only able to be studied under the confines of a hermetically sealed bio-chamber (read: I’m finally over that cold I had).

I am writing this update from Scott’s second story work room.  Scott is a fellow FSU alum and is graciously allowing me to stay with him here in West Virginia until the Israeli embassy decides to process my visa request.  I still hope to make it to PA to visit the Freincle clan but I must say, this is not a bad alternative by any means.  I woke up this morning to a delicious breakfast, I have practically the whole second floor to myself and I can stare out the window as the snow gently falls on the large back lawn.

Because we are close to the Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia borders, the closest Shabbat services were in Maryland last night. Going to other synagogues always reminds me of why I love Congregation Beth Shalom of Brandon.  Not that any of the other services are bad – not by any means.  But the melodies are always a little different, the traditions change here and there, and the people usually seem hesitant to try to reach out to travelers.  I also think I’m a little spoiled by how participatory C.B.S. is compared to other congregations; some prayers just sound dull and boring when just the rabbi is saying or chanting them all alone up on the bema.  But overall, I do like seeing how other congregations worship, it is interesting to see the differences and similarities.

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Day Seven

Saviya flew back to Tampa today and I decided to spend the entire day in the hotel room mostly passed out with Nyquil.  I have caught up on most of my blog readings and since I have nothing of note to write about tonight, I will just suggest you read this blog I found to be quite interesting.  It sums up my thoughts on traveling solo perfectly:

http://www.scenewithahart.com/asia/thailand/kohngaiforlovers/

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Day Six

Sick day 😦

I made it out to the Library of Congress – which is amazing! – before heading back home to spend the day in bed.  Saviya and I had our last dinner together in DC at Erin and Kevin’s place.  Great company if I do say so myself.

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Day Five

Perspective.  Sometimes, you can get a totally different experience just by changing your perspective on something you have already become familiar with. I spent the day in bed with a cold.  Boo colds!  But around 8pm, I had enough energy to go out into the cold DC night and see something.  Saviya and I decided to revisit the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.  It was nice to see the man towering out of the white granite rock at night when all the tourists where gone.  It allowed me to take in the quotes on a little more introspective level.  I think the one I enjoyed the most on this particular visit was:

I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world.

It should be no surprise why this particular quote stands out to me. I do believe that if “War is the answer, we are asking the wrong questions.”  That we is anyone, the USA, Israel, Iran, anyone who would come to such a grave conclusion.  I also like the perspective that it is because he loved America that he opposed the war – it is a refreshing and, in my opinion, not often heard point of view against war.

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We then headed over to my all time favorite place in all of Washington DC:  The Jefferson Memorial.  This place is off the beaten path so I have never had to ‘share’ this space with many people.  It also constantly challenges me to think of the constitution in new ways with the four quotes around the circular colonnade – sometimes more conservatively and other times more liberally.  What I also love about this place is that when you are done getting your history on, you can turn around, walk out of the open air memorial and get one of the best views of DC.  Jefferson himself stairs directly north to the White House with the Washington monument just a jump to the right.  As you stand on the grand stares leading up to Jefferson, you can see the new MLK memorial to your left and the top of Lincoln’s memorial just behind that.  If you look down Maryland Ave, you can see the Capitol building. These views, are made even more pleasurable at night when the water of the tidal basin reflects some of these images off the water.

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Day Four

This morning, Saviya and I went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It is one of the most well put together memorial museums of the holocaust I have ever seen.  I find it hard to write much more about it here tonight so I’ll just say you should definitely put this on your must-see list when you come to DC.

We then headed over to the newest addition to the memorials here in DC: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memorial.  Although I’m not a fan of all the tourists that don’t seem to have much respect for what a memorial is, I was impressed with this new space.  The area is well utilized and I feel like most people looking to get a meaningful experience here will find one.

Two of my favorite MLK quotes are inscribed on the South Wall of inscriptions.  The first is one that I love for his interesting view on why he is against war – not because of the usual suspects (loss of life, moral ambiguity of intervention, etc.) but because of a love for his country.

I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America.  I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world.

The next quote I love I actually had painted on a giant 10 foot by 30 foot banner.  The quote states:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

But the speech continued (and you should read this out loud):  Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.  … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. . .

This is a great memorial to an even greater man.  This is definitely a highlight of my trip.

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Day Three

Today was supposed to be a museum day but after about an hour at the Space and Air Museum, I decided to check out and head for the hotel.  On the way, I stopped by the Occupy DC Freedom Plaza park.  I’m glad I did because I totally forgot that today was the day of action against war in Iran.  I headed over to the street in front of the White House to join in with over 70 cities around the world protesting against aggression.

I sometimes feel a little awkward when I protest at anti-war rallies that talk about US-Israeli relations and the aggressive behavior of both countries.  I am a proud American and of course I support and understand the vital need for the Jewish state.  But for about five minutes I feel ashamed of the behavior taken by these two states.  I often feel as though if my fellow protesters find out I am a Jew or that I am fiercely proud of my family’s military service, I will be turned into a pariah.  As I prepare to leave for Israel, this is coming into stark reality.

Then, after the awkwardness, I feel a sense of pride.  I know in my heart that Judaism is not about war or aggression.  Micah 6:8 tells us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with G-d.  What about war or bombing or starving people or making others’ lives harder or anything of the such accomplishes any of those three things required of us?  And so, by being at these marches, by proudly wearing my Chai and proclaiming that it is BECAUSE I am Jewish that I belong and need to be out here fighting for peace that I reclaim the faith that I know and love.

As the drums of war begin to beat, may we all remember peaceful times, tranquility abounding throughout all borders.  And may we actively work to keep peace in our lives and in our countries.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your G-d.

No War on Iran

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