It began more than a year ago. Congregants inquired “are we going to have a synagogue trip to Israel?”
We met and discussed, planned and studied, tried to determine the best program to meet the needs for those who wished to travel to our Jewish homeland.
It all comes together tonight as we leave to visit Israel for Chanukah. We are an intergenerational group of 27 participants, ranging in age from 13 to over 80. Some have never travelled to Israel, some have been many times.
We’ll celebrate two B’nai Mitzvah while we’re there: our 13-year will chant Torah at the egalitarian southern side of the Western Wall. This beautiful young man is sharing his Israel Bar Mitzvah experience with one of our 30-year olds: she, too, will celebrate becoming Bat Mitzvah at this time, as she never experienced Bat Mitzvah when she was growing up.
We’ll hike, explore, eat, laugh, bond as a group, learn, eat, listen, learn, explore more, taste chocolate and wine, spend time with the Israeli Reform Movement and eat some more. We’ll marvel at the wonder of modern Israel and all that has been accomplished in such a short time. We’ll learn about the struggles and challenges that exist in the Middle East. We’ll keep open minds and open hearts.
This is not merely a “trip,” or a “vacation,” it is a journey. We are going to connect spiritually, emotionally and physically with the land of our ancestors. We will reflect on our own Jewish identities and what our connection to Israel means to each of us.
And we’ll share our reflections and photos each day – in this space – with you.
I will be turning over my blog to a different person each day to share something from the previous day (a group “journal” of sorts).
So join us on our journey, travel with us as you follow us on this space (beginning around December 22nd).
A Traveler’s Prayer for Our Special Journey*
Let us remember that we travel not for the sake of travel alone, but to have our perspectives on the world transformed.
Let us take responsibility for our actions and words as we observe, learn, listen, struggle, grow and reflect,
Let us arrive safely at our destination – knowing that this is no ordinary trip, but a journey of the heart, mind, soul and spirit. A unique journey to “Eretz Yisrael, The Land of Israel.”
Let us feel the deep and abiding connection with our Jewish roots, that will inspire us to develop a long and lasting bond with the land and people of Israel.
May the sparks of the Chanukah candles ignite a spark of passion within us, which we will bring back home to share with others, so they too, may be strengthened by our learning and understanding.
May we be blessed in our going and blessed in our returning -in safety, peace and wholeness.
*(Prayer based on a similar prayer from AJWS)