From December 22, 2016 – January 2, 2017, almost 30 members of the CBS community traveled to Israel as part of the CBS/Kol Shofar Intergenerational Communal Family Mission. The trip itinerary was thoughtfully designed by Rabbis Aubrey Glazer and Susan Leider (Kol Shofar), and we've heard from many participants about how extraordinary and memorable an experience they had.
Beginning today, we'll occasionally share participant remembrances on the blog. If you read these contributions and wish to join a future congregational mission to Eretz Yisrael, please let us know.
We're kicking this series off with a lovely note from congregants Robert and Irene Minkowsky.
We came as a group of 30 or so with Rabbi Glazer, some of us totally virgin to Israel and this part of the world.
Avraham Silver, our primary guide, gave us a rich window into the history – or should we say, the memory and spirituality – of our people and into this land of honey and grapes, mountains and valleys, springs and seas, culture, language, architecture, and creativity.
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv flanked for us a journey of a lifetime.
We bounced – thanks to our driver, Yosi – over rocky roads, both inland and by the coast (eretz to yam), and moved through narrow streets. We saw the tips of the land, north and east, bordering Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, trying to understanding the borders where the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) watch from jeeps idling between mine fields.
We think we may understand now the old and the new, the religious and the secular, the rabbis and the Zionists, the Declaration of Independence and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Yet, as Avraham tells us, the conflict does not define the country; life and beauty define Israel, really.
We got a glimpse into the secrets, the magical, the miraculous survival from the fires, the anti-Semitism, the pogroms, the camps, the isolate dunes.
We saw the proud and beautiful new generations climbing Masada, defending the streets, educating the young, and supporting the aged. We floated in the salt of the Dead Sea and hummed tunes of hope. It was sometimes hard to believe we were alive in the land of our ancestors.
We are about to turn a new leaf in our book, one that includes Israel in every breath of our being. We embrace this exciting new passage in our lives, ready to explore more – so much more! – in the future.
Todah rabbah, Avraham. Todah rabbah, Da’at Educational Expeditions, and to Yosi, our Da'at guide, for the knowledge, the physical experience, and the memories you imparted us. Thank you, Rabbi Glazer, for making it the trip a reality for us, and for adding your knowledge and inspiration.
Make no mistake of it, as Avraham would say, we will be back! We leave our hearts in Israel.
With love and gratitude,
Irene and Robert (Minkowsky)