Passover is over and I am on the plane writing this on my way to Israel. In the “old days” of cellular communication you’d write furiously on your phone to respond to emails before it got too fast on the runway. Once you lifted off, there was no signal and it was just you and a book or whatever you had downloaded before the trip.
No longer is that the case…there is no “down time” with free WiFi . The positive thing is that you can answer a text question, respond to emails, check the news, and, of course, write a missive for the Savannah Jewish Federation eNews.
I had many motivations for traveling to Israel. First of all….it has been way too long. As someone who has advocated for Israel for a lifetime, you have to get “an injection” of the people and the land every so often. While the sites are inspiring, the touring fascinating, and the multi-culturalism is unparalleled, it is the people who always energize me and remind me of what we do and why we do it.
For the first three days I will be spending time and touring facilities and programs with leadership of the Israel Association of Community Centers (IACC), the largest provider of social services in the country. With over 1,000 locations (that’s right, 1,000+ locations in the small country of Israel), IACC is one of the “hidden jewels” of Israel responsible for creating and supporting the very fabric of the country serving Jewish, Arab, and Druze constituencies. As the American President of the Friends of the IACC, I am excited to meet the people and programs that we have worked to support over the last few years.
From there I (along with a few others from Savannah) will join the Atlanta Jewish Federation’s Israel Mission called The Atlanta Journey. In designing the trip they were able to provide many different tracks for different interests including Culinary, First Timers. Global Leadership, Israel Through New Eyes, Outdoors, Tradition & Inspiration. We will learn together on Tuesday morning and will, like all of Israel, stop wherever we are at 10am to observe 2 minutes of silence. We will be joining them at their Partnership Region to have home hospitality with the residents (there is nothing like ‘breaking bread’ with someone to get to know them. We will travel to Jerusalem and I will be taking the Israel Thought New Eyes trip. I look forward to seeing different programs, sites, and people then I “usually see.” And along the way I hope to see some of our former Shlichim to catch up on the last decades of their lives.
The last part of the trip will be attending the Federations of North America’s General Assembly. The Opening Plenary is sure to be quite interesting with the featured speakers PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. With the unrest in the country, I’m sure that everyone will be hanging on every word. We will participate in Yom Hazikaron site visits as we join Israelis to mark this most somber and difficult day on the Israeli calendar and then transition to a Yom Ha’atzmaut Transition party. I’m exhausted thinking about the entire program and I haven’t even arrived in the country yet.
I reflect that when we ended the seder this past week with Next Year in Jerusalem, I quietly said to myself Next Week in Jerusalem. This week, is next week.