We saw all three of these influences converge when we visited David Friedman's art studio. David made Aliyah over 30 years ago from Denver and acknowledged that the music of the Grateful Dead (plus the drug culture) influenced his art. His works are stunning and reflect many Kabbalistic elements, which he beautifully and spiritually spelled out. Many in our group were moved to purchase his artwork (your writer among them).
Alas, we didn't have time for anything but high level browsing. Note to self: must return to this must not miss spot. (If readers are concerned I did not get in my usual shopping quotient, no fear as the Yad Vashem gift shop offered many fine opportunities to fill my extra bag-- and fill it I did.)
As for our departure, security and check in at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion's airport are really something else. We prepped our group that they should not volunteer that we had spent considerable amounts of time on the West Bank. It was " Kosher" for us to be there-- but a detailed description might be problematic for Israeli Security, so we were strongly advised to stick to a straightforward and simplistic script. As tour leader , I was singled out by security for fairly extensive questioning. Good thing my mental and physical exhaustion did not affect my brain cells as I was able to answer the following questions with some semblance of agility: Why were you here? Who was your leader? Did you have meetings? Why? What cities did you visit? Who was your guide (here, we had been explicitly coached not to identify Husam as a guide)? Why did you come early? Did any of your group separate from the rest? Why? Etc., etc. Then, I had to walk alongside our group with my new BFF Security guy to verify our group members (I was pretty pleased I did not have to recite names as by this point, I was wiped!), but that wasn't all. After my bags went through the initial screening, I was pulled aside so the friendly Security folks could do a deeper dive into my baggage for something suspect. (Luckily, my laundry was elsewhere). Low and behold (gift spoiler alert!!!), they discovered that the Dead Sea salt gifts had set off some kind of alert on the X-ray machine. Fortunately, this discovery did not at all affect my ability to keep these gifts and continue through the security labyrinth.
The last blog for this journey will contain our reflections. Stay tuned.