Michael Jordan and a monastery in Jericho

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who had a tear in my eye at the conclusion of  ESPN’s The Last Dance (aired in Israel on Netflix). The Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, and Michael Jordan in particular, were more than a basketball team. They became a powerful symbol of hope and accomplishment for the City of Chicago and beyond….way beyond.
On a beautiful day in 1995, just after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed, my wife and I went to Jericho with friends. There was a spirit of hope in the air – that peace was finally possible and that prosperity for the entire Middle East was a only a matter of time.
We went to the Mount of Temptation, where, according to the Christian Bible, Jesus was tempted by the devil. We took a cable car about 3/4 of the way up, where it stopped at a stunning overlook. There was, of course, a coffee shop, where we sat for quite some time before deciding to hike up the rest of the mountain to see the Greek Orthodox monastery nestled into the mountain.
As we arrived at the monastery, we saw a big wooden door, right out of the movies. We knocked, and asked the monk who answered the door if we could see the inside. He appeared to be living there in isolation (he was very kind and let us in). He told us he was from Greece, and asked us where we were from. Our Israeli friends told him that they were from the Jerusalem area, and we told him we were from Chicago.
“Ah….Chicago,” he said. Pause….”Michael Jordan!”
About the Author
Rich Moline is a Jewish educator, non-profit executive, and volunteer leader living in Chicago.