Monday, November 3rd, 2008, 3:30PM

Somehow the excitement of being in this foreign land has given me a second wind and despite little sleep, I am no longer tired. When Nechama Hendel asks me if I want to go touring, I readily agree.

We climb up to the many steps of the famous ancient Greece Acropolis and view the Parthenon. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock which rises almost 500 feet above sea level. Built in the 5th century BCE, the Parthenon is considered the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, and an enduring symbol of ancient Greece. Its decorative sculptures are considered one of the high points of Greek art. The vast great pillars have intricate designs and superb architecture.

Throughout the ages, this area served as the center for Greek Temples, sanctuaries, cults and civic administrative center, churches during the Byzantine period and mosques after the Ottoman conquest.

From high up here, we look down the huge mountainside to view an incredible site of the large, crowded Metropolis. Closer by, we stand overlooking the remains of an ancient Greek theatre called the Theatre of Dionysus. A few hundred metres away, there is the now partially reconstructed Theatre of Herodes Atticus.

I shudder as I imagine what kind of entertainment went on here in ancient Greece, as I view the many sloped benches surrounding the theatre area.


We're now on the way back to the hotel. Nechama wants me to see the changing of the guards in front of the Parliament building, which occurs every hour on the hour. She jokes that knowing me from my writing she is sure I will learn some spiritual lesson from this too.

The statuesque guards stare ahead, not moving, completely unflinching. I notice a fly land and crawl up the cheek of one of the guards, but he resolutely remains standing straight, staring forward, arms at his side. He's at his post and he won't move, neither to the right nor to the left. He has a task to accomplish and nothing and no one will deter him. He wears a strange and cumbersome costume of white tights, a skirt, bulky shoes and a hat.

Finally, the new guard arrives and in exact precision, following precise protocol, the ceremony begins—marching forward, backwards and forward again, clicking their heals to the right and to the left in absolute unison as the guards change posts and the new ones undertake their mission, standing guard, unflinchingly for the entire next hour.

Nechama is correct. What an awe-inspiring lesson in perseverance, in sticking to the path and in fulfilling one's duty, irrespective of the circumstances surrounding you...


My lecture begins. I am speaking on the Kabbalistic understanding of the origins and spiritual expertise of men and women, and how these spiritual compositions affect the way we relate in our inter-personal relationships. The crowd is a very mixed one, older and younger, but all very receptive to the message. A simultaneous translator is set up in the back of the room, translating my speech into Greek, and heard by the small transistors worn as ear pieces by those who choose the translated version. I remind myself to talk slower, and allow for the longer translation time difference for a reaction from the crowd.

Afterwards, several people approach me to share, talk and ask questions. One woman who approaches me tells me that she's nearing 40 and has a long term relationship, off and on, with a non-Jew. She is in a quandary about her future. She explains how her marriage prospects with a Jewish male are slim and becoming less and less of a possibility in this small Jewish community as time progresses...and she's getting older and she so wants a child of her own...and yet at the same time, something in her soul is pulling at her, holding her back.

This is just one of the many examples of why the Hendels are living here, far from their own families, raising their children far from cousins and friends.

And the war against the Hellenist culture continues...