When I toured Israel as a college student in 1972 I didn’t have a camera. Even though there are no photos to bear witness that I was on the American Zionist Youth Foundation seven-week tour I think I can safely describe how I looked when we arrived in the old city of Safed.
No doubt I was wearing a tank top with a pair of jeans. My nose was most likely sunburned and my thick, frizzy hair was pulled back into a ponytail courtesy of a special Israeli barrette I’d bought. I certainly was not dressed to visit a synagogue but that is exactly where our tour took us, to the ancient synagogues of Safed. Since they seemed to be museums I don’t remember being the least bit embarrassed by my attire.
lWhat I do remember is the awe I felt at their history and beauty, especially that of the Ari Ashkenazi Beit Knesset. A simple courtyard and heavy door outside belied the splendor within. The domed ceiling, the ornate Holy Ark with its intricate olive wood carvings, the gold lamps, the paintings, and the ancient wooden pews filled me with awe.