כתב עת בנושאי תרבות ותוכן
Impressions from a short visit.
By: Zvi Gill
The Hebrew word "ushpizin" derives from its Latin origin. Hospice-meaning a Lodge, a guest house, Inn and also hospital. The order of the "knights of Malta" known as Hospitalliers, was a Christian organization which started as a hospital mainly for Christian pilgrims who visited the Holy land. It was founded in Jerusalem in 1080 in order to provide care for poor, sick or wounded pilgrims. Thus, the word hospital has its roots here, and to hospitalize "le'ashpez" in Hebrew stems from that word. In essence it means a hostel. In the Holly Land there were many similar inns, particularly in Jerusalem. One of these was, "the Russian Compound" located in the center of Jerusalem which is referred to recently in the news as a property to be returned to the Russians.
It is worthwhile mentioning the fact that most of the travelers during previous centuries were Christian pilgrims or Christian travelers. The Jews were not among the mass travelers. They were restricted from traveling for various reasons, such as religious discrimination, lack of means .Therefore, in most of the lodges and hotels one will find among others, The New Testament, on the chest of drawers at the bed site.
I just returned from a short Holliday in Cyprus This Island is recently related to civil weddings of Israelis, also in the Fifties of the 20 century, during the period in which Israel was under a strict regime of austerity, lack of food and other commodities, the Israelis used to travel to Cyprus and purchase electrical appliances.
Cyprus is a very lovely Island and the Israelis are among the most enthusiastic visitors of their neighboring Island. It goes without saying that on the little chest at the bed side I found a copy of the "New Testament". One should remember that the dominant religion in Cyprus is The Greek Orthodox version of Christianity. Historically this religion was more tolerant towards the Jews than the Catholic Church.
In my view, choosing the New Testament as a preferential religious work among the Monotheistic religions has nothing to do with any kind of a missionary trend. It is simply a tradition. I am not a religious person, but sometimes I would like to read again various marvelous chapters. If it were on top of my bed side, I would have most probably opened it.
I wonder why the huge tourist industry does not take into consideration that millions of travelers are Jews or Muslims and it would have been more than appropriate to pay attention to this reality, both in practical and symbolic terms and spread the Bible or the Koran , so that the guests can learn more about other religions and, I would add ,their own religion as well . If the tourist branch will not do it, there are many voluntary organizations – Jewish and Muslims that would.