By Gina Kohr
Today, we come full circle as 24 individuals on our way home excited to share unique experiences with loved ones, community members, and coworkers.
The past 10 days we have walked many miles and traveled many destinations and eaten so much food that I don’t know when I will ever be hungry again. Each stop we asked questions to have a better understanding of art, culture, history, faith, politics, and future innovation of the state of Israel. Then, we had personal conversations about how this trip affected us personally.
My experience was that this has been a once in a lifetime opportunity – first time with a passport or traveling without my immediate family. The relationships formed with everyone on this journey now feels like extended family. Many of us put our feet in the sand at Caesarea after taking a jump back in time to sit in the theater that was hundreds of years olds, when suddenly another group lifted their voices in praise.
Learning about Betsy and Larry’s son being Bar Mitzvah’d at Mesada brings tears to my eyes. We are blessed that we shared their return journey to a place they call home.
Walking the streets where George, our School Aged Care Director, was raised touched each of our hearts. We loved sharing this personal experience, seeing him return to a place he had not been since he was 12 years old.
We then let loose in a drum circle, jumping around and dancing under the stars, laughing so loud at dinner.
One last take away is that Israel will always rebuild. Everywhere you look we saw historical sites with evidence of war, conflicts, and destruction, yet there is a sense of hope and hard work, continuing to learn and adapt. As an example, some buildings had bullet holes or stones that had been numbered so the building could then be preserved and reconstructed to its original status. On opposite corners of the street, you can see renovated modern homes and businesses. There is pride and an element of always learning and changing, welcoming and inclusive.
The Law of Return welcomes all Jews to Israel. The tour guides made us feel like we were welcomed and included, teaching us about the history rich with art, culture, innovation, and a message of peace.
Thank you to the York JCC and all that help organize this meaningful adventure with friends and coworkers.