John the Baptist in Tel Aviv Israel today
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John the Baptist in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv: “After me, One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the strap of His sandals.

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When He comes, the deserted places will rejoice. When He comes, the eyes of the blind will see the light of day. When He comes, the ears of the deaf will be opened,” a dramatic baritone voice resounds from out of the depths of the stage. Around the cistern, three soldiers intone: “Have him be quiet. He is a holy man. Who is he? A prophet. What is his name? John [in Hebrew: Yochanan.]”

In January, the Israeli Opera staged a production of Salome, an opera written by Richard Strauss. It is the first literary opera, based on the drama by Oscar Wilde. All 10 performances were sold out. “A fascinating production and an epic performance,” Israel’s leading daily paper Yediot Ahronot wrote. The critics were ecstatic over the Israeli production of the opera. My wife and I went with friends to experience the final performance. Behind me, I heard someone explaining to the person next to him: “Yochanan was the forerunner for the Messiah and is even compared to Elijah. As did all the other prophets in the Bible,…

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