TE goes to Israel 2013

Back in August, as we were coming back from Temple Emanuel trip to Israel, I have asked the participants to write a line or two about their experience, so that I could share their words, their narratives and their emotions with the rest of TE. Below are some of those early impressions, a snapshot of an experience of a life time, surrounded by a few more pictures from the trip. There isn’t much that I can add to the profoundly moving words that Alla, Ron, Monte, Keith, Sandy, Olivia, Sam and Eva had shared with us, except for one thing: going to Israel as part of Temple Emanuel group has made this experience even more special for everyone, myself included, and I am eternally grateful for the incredible sense of community that I got to experience.

“Awe, frustration, hope, and pride are just a few of the feelings that I experienced while on the tour in Israel. The history of the land and people that extends to thousands of years, the achievements (modern architecture, unique design, art, and agriculture), the dedication to human life were frequently overwhelming. The ability to share it with my family, with old friends and new ones was truly priceless. ” —Alla

 “If I took a friend to Israel, the 1st place we’d go is the beach in Tel Aviv. I liked the water temperature and the waves. I liked trying surfing.” —Ava, 9

 “I went to Israel as a tourist. But, after my experience there for two weeks, I had a sense of pride and accomplishment about my journey. I guess I was not a tourist after all. ” —Sam, 12

  “I liked that people in Israel ignored what was going on  around them. The news does not portray the peace that exists. People live in neighborhoods, play with friends and have families just like us. Israel is a great and beautiful place to visit. ” —Olivia, 15

 “I’ve come back from Israel with a bird’s-eye view of a society with many contradictions; the Ultra Orthodox, who live, breathe and “practice” the literal Torah’’’—’’’’with disproportionate political influence, while seemingly oblivious to the practical realities of the general society in which they live; contrasted with the modern, secular Israelis, the young who especially appear confident and outwardly fearless in their hearing—but many of whom, according to the Reform rabbis who spoke to us, lack the type of religious connection we experience in America (and yet who live and breathe the Bible as their history). We saw miracles in agriculture and technology which Israel’s neighbors would do well to emulate; yet these neighbors dismiss all of this in the name of ideology, instead favoring poverty, hunger and ignorance for their common people. We also received some profound insights from non-Jewish Israeli citizens about the “other side of the coin.” As a Jew who was born less than a decade after the holocaust and experienced anti-Semitism directly as a young child, and indirectly through the experiences of my parents, I must say that I never felt in my 60 plus years the same profound sense of safety and belonging anywhere else as I felt during the time of less than two weeks that we spent In Israel. ”  —Monte

 “My father was a doctor in World War II. He served in India, China and Burma—  seeing all these places before he was 35— but he never went to Israel. My mother  always spoke of going to Israel, but got  sick and never went. Yet I made it to Israel. Standing on Mount Scopus overlooking Jerusalem for the first time was an experience I will never forget.

Standing at the Western Wall and placing a prayer at the Wall for my parents was exhilarating. Seeing my son read from the Torah wearing his Bar Mitzvah tallas and me wearing the yarmulke that my father had worn at my Bar Mitzvah 42 years ago was like fulfilling a lifelong dream. If I never take another trip in life, I made it to Israel. It truly was a life altering experience. ” —Ron

 “My favorite place was Ein Gedi!” —Jared, 13

 “In Israel I found family and a piece of myself I didn’t/hadn’t known.” —Keith

 “The only place in the world for a Jew to go, never having been, and feel that they have come home. Beautiful, incredibly diverse, proud, strong, warm, real. It truly is, and always will be, “Tikvatanu”. Nothing else comes close.” —Jen


“When the potential for a trip to Israel was announced, I knew we had to go. I also knew I’d need to do some convincing, as the media does not always portray Israel well and therefore has made people afraid to travel. It has been my pleasure to let everyone know what a beautiful and peaceful place it is. ” —Sandy

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