The Jerusalem Post has a pretty good article about Tel Shiloh, as tourist site and archaeological dig. I'm glad that the new administration of Tel Shiloh, Shiloh HaKeduma--Ancient Shiloh is bringing in the media. Quite a number of years ago when I first began announcing Women's Rosh Chodesh (beginning of the Jewish Month) Prayers at Tel Shiloh, I was so sure that it would become a big, popular event within a few months, or year at the most.
Just like Travis Allen, quoted in that article, it seemed so strange that such a holy and accessible spot would be easy to market to tourists and pilgrims.
Travis Allen was spending three weeks in 2009 driving around Israel visiting historic sites when he suddenly noticed Shiloh on the map and asked his driver if they could go to the site of the archaeological dig. What Allen, a financial advisor from California who’s making his first run for public office, remembers vividly is what was not there. People.
“I went and there was no one there. There was a little station by a gate. I asked if this is Shiloh where the tabernacle used to stand and I was told, ‘up by the hill.’ I walked up by myself and I had the whole place to myself... It was fantastic. There was a viewing platform and nothing else.”
Now why Shiloh for prayer, you may be asking?
Shiloh is mentioned many times in the Bible and later Jewish writings. Shiloh was the first capital of the Jewish Nation, a status it retained for almost four hundred years. It was the location of the Mishkan, Tabernacle the "temporary" building for Jewish Prayer, first assembled during the forty year desert trek from Egypt to the Holy Land.
It was in Shiloh where Biblical Chana prayed for a son who would lead the Jewish People out of the leaderless rut it had been in. Her son Samuel the Prophet was the one who brought the Jewish People to the next stage by anointing the first two kings, Saul and David. The transition from a tribal nation to one ruled by a king was crucially important in Jewish History.
I found one of Allen's statements rather peculiar:
Allen, a candidate for the California Assembly, interjected that, “Shiloh belongs to the whole world, not just the Jewish nations. When Christians come here they look through the bible,”
The Biblical story is very clear. It's the Jewish story, the story of our growth from one man, Abraham to a family/clan of twelve brothers, then twelve connected tribes, then a wandering People and finally a Nation rooted in our Land. All of that time we worshipped the same One G-d, followed the same religion and recorded and remembered the very same religion, today, thousands of years later, known as Judaism.
Today, this morning, I'll be meeting other women at Tel Shiloh to pray the Rosh Chodesh Prayers. Next month's Rosh Chodesh is the Holiday of Rosh Hashannah, so we'll be meeting on a different day. More information to follow.