The months lagged as I waited in anticipation for the adventure of going to Israel to come to fruition. I looked at it as an opportunity to experience the history and culture of the Jewish peoples in Israel. What I got was so much more…
I had no idea that the trip that included co-workers and past and present board members would become a bonding experience. It presented a chance to get to see coworkers we worked with 8 hour days, 5 days a week, in a whole new way, and the board members whom I knew only by name or in passing became as friends to me, because of the mutual sharing of a new environment.
You share the exhaustion of the long flight, bus rides and walking. You share the excitement for what lies ahead. You share the frustrations that go with air travel. You share the anxieties of those who have never or rarely traveled. You shared concern for those who fell ill, or had obtained injuries. You shared the homesickness for loved ones that you wish were there to share the experiences. You shared the wonder at the remains of ancient cities. You are awestruck together at the building of these cities without the technology of modern times and wonder “How did they accomplish this?!”. You are filled with admiration together for a people so devoted and connected to their homeland and God that they toiled under harsh conditions to rebuild it. You weep together at Holocaust museums, Old Jerusalem and Mosada for the children, women and men cut down early, like the early wasteful reaping of a harvest. You ponder together mankind’s search for truth as evidenced by all the different temples and shrines of so many different religions, all in one small area. You marvel together at the ingenuity and creativity of the Israeli people with their innovations and technology. You’re amazed together at the unbridled joie de vivre and indominable spirit of the Israeli’s,even while surrounded by hostile peoples. These are but a few of the shared experiences we shared together.
Together, our Jewish learning was enhanced by the board members who traveled with us, by their patient explanations, their warmth and inclusiveness, their connectedness to the Holy Land.
Together, we saw the hospitality that IS Israel – from the restaurant in Tel Aviv on our first night where we were treated as guests – not as customers, to the Druze people who welcomed us into their community as well as their homes, to Dani and Orit who hosted dinner for us all at their home.
This trip made such a remarkable impact on my life. After a whirlwind glimpse into the way of life, the beauty, the history, I find that a part of me remains in Israel and causes me to yearn to return to learn more, experience more. I am thankful to be able to share an appreciation for Israel and its peoples, especially the Jews, to help overcome anti-Semitism wherever I may encounter it. I am also thankful for having the opportunity to traveled together with the group that I did because I know that together, we will be that positive change at the York JCC, working together to continue the momentum of bringing Jewish and Israeli culture to our community.