Israel Mission Remembrance (I)

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.

Facebook_IsraelMission_WortzmanTalk_IsraelMuseum_JerusalemWe 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) Facebook_IsraelMission_GroupPhoto2_Jerusalem

Yom Ha'atzmaut Celebration

Facebook_RabbiGlazerLiorBenHurSolTevel_YomHaAtzmautCelebration_May2016Yesterday afternoon, the Achshav Yisrael committee of CBS, in partnership with the Jewish Community Federation, presented its sixth program, a celebration marking Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day).

After kicking Israel's 68th birthday party off in Koret Hall with some of Rabbi Glazer's always-thoughtful remarks and a first-rate rendition of Hatikvah by Congregation Anshey Sfard's hazzan, Avyatar Alfassi, the crowd danced, noshed, and schmoozed as the popular singer-songwriter Lior Ben-Hur and his band Sol Tevel performed. The music was both soulful and fun; it was a hit with all assembled.

Outside, in Eva Gunther Plaza, congregants of all ages added personal aspirations and prayers to an amazing replica of the Western Wall made by the CBS Family Preschool Pre-K class. The students were inspired by photos of the Western Wall as well as memories and stories shared by children in the class who have visited the actual wall in Jerusalem. (The notes added to the replica wall yesterday will soon be carried to the actual Western Wall and placed there!) Nearby, families enjoyed cookie decorating, making Israeli flags, and face and hand painting activities.

Other attendees headed into the SF Schoolhouse space to watch Dancing In Jaffa, a documentary about Pierre Dulaine, four-time ballroom dancing world champion, fulfilling a life-long dream when he takes his dance program, to his city of birth, Jaffa. From the film's press release: "For generations, Jaffa has been a city divided by two communities that continue to grow increasingly apart. Over a ten-week period, Pierre teaches Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children to dance and compete together. The film explores the complex stories of three children, all of whom who are forced to confront issues of identity, segregation, and racial prejudice as they dance with their enemy."

CBS heartily thanks the Achshav Yisrael committee for its work on this program, and the Jewish Community Federation for it's generous support! Check out some photos from the program below, and visit the CBS Facebook page for more.

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.
Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Eva-Lynne Leibman, Ephraim Margolin, Lucia Sommers

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