I can’t ever remember seeing a TV commercial for a trip to Israel…until yesterday. Up to that point, I had seen, heard, and read many appeals for such trips in and through churches, congregations, and individual Christians. The lure is obvious.
For the Christian (as well as a few other faith groups), it’s somewhat of a pilgrimage. A trip to Israel can be the highlight of a Christian’s traveling experience. It’s mine for sure.
So, when I saw this commercial, I was a bit taken back. I’ve seen it three times in the past two days, and I’ve pointed it out to my lovely Bride. I don’t usually draw her attention to commercials, because it often ends up costing us money. This one was different, however.
“She is reaching back…”
I have to admit, the first couple times I saw it, I didn’t realize it was a commercial for Israel. The reason is (I think) because it features a rather voluptuous young woman. Throughout the commercial, she is reaching back to take someone’s hand. The hand appears to belong to her traveling companion who seems to be running the camera.
Each time she reaches back, she’s in a different place and is wearing a different outfit. The final outfit is a bright yellow dress that shows about as much of her figure as any red-blooded, American male can take. In each scene, her smile is very inviting, and she’s obviously having a great time. It’s very well done.
The third time around, I finally realized the various places in the commercial were sites in Israel. The names of the panoramas were listed on the screen each time, but who reads words when a picture is worth a thousand of them? When I finally got around to reading, I saw references to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
A lot of folks travel to Israel each year. My guess is the number of people heading there over the next few months will skyrocket. As the old Madison Avenue axiom says, “Sex Sells.” The gal in the ad is about as sexy as they come. If Madison Avenue is correct, it will now become harder finding a seat on El Al.
I’m glad to see people heading to Israel, though. As I said, my trip there was one of the highlights of my life. The problem with the commercial, from my perspective, is that people will now head there because it’s a romantic getaway. If that’s true, I’m guessing most of them will miss the really important places—Golgotha, Masada, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Via Dolorosa just to name a few.
I know I’m biased in this area, but standing where Jesus stood and walking where he walked is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I’d hate to see someone travel all that way and miss out. I love romance just like everyone else, but you can find that in Paris. The geography in Israel is the fifth Gospel. Please don’t miss it!
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]