Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Trip to Israel---An Experience of a Lifetime

This is a repeat post written by my Aunt Carla,  from St. Louis, on the trip she made to Israel in 2010. 

My wonderful Aunt Carla, who lives in St. Louis, just returned home from her trip to Israel She had such a great experience she wrote it down on paper and entitled it 'An Experience of a Lifetime.'  It was so well written and inspiring I asked and received her permission to publish it here:

"An Experience of a Lifetime" by Carla Weintraub   Dec. 2010  

"It was the last day of our trip. Some of us attended Shabbat services at a conservative synagogue in Jerusalem . We were warmly welcomed by Rabbi Frank, and several of us were given an aliyah. Here we were in the Holy City with our Rabbi Rose participating in prayers familiar to us! Upon taking leave, I thanked Rabbi Frank and the Prayer Leader. She took my hand in hers, and said, “Welcome Home!”   That said it all!

This was my fourth trip to Israel . However, this experience was like no other. Those involved in the planning developed an itinerary that was outstanding!  The very direction we traveled, from North to South, and than back to Jerusalem helped weave an inspiring story, a tapestry, of the past, present and possible future of Israel .

We visited so many places, each with its own history, dating back to hundreds and thousands of years. Many of these sites are still involved in the geo-political problems of today. Moshe Goldin, our tour guide, along with Rabbi Rose “filled in the blanks” on our understanding both from a historical and religious perspective. Their knowledge in each of their disciplines, along with their love for this country provided us with information and inspiration.

Our journey included many stops that are not found on most Israel itineraries along with the familiar places we never tire of re-visiting. What I recall so vividly, were the people. I want to share a few of my personal highlights of a few places and people:

Sderot- A special visit was arranged by Rabbi Rose to the town of Sderot .

It is important that people keep coming there to understand the rocket reality that the people of Sderot live with. We visited the only protected playground in the world, with rocket proof steel caterpillars for children to play in. Here parents can enjoy visiting while watching their children playing and laughing. This wonderful place is the result of Palestinian terrorists who launched about 1000 Qassam rockets since 2001. The director shared with us that when planning this playground it was suggested it include a merry-go round and a climbing wall. This they were told was not possible. When the sirens go off in Sderot, people have only 15 seconds to enter a safe room. Both a merry-go-round and a high climbing wall require 25 seconds. As a result it was decided that there would not be a merry-go-round.  A lower climbing wall required no tether.

Military Base Tank Unit - Here we were briefed by a young woman officer and her unit commander. We learned about the guide lines for the training of forces and the equipment inventory of their tanks. We reviewed the progression of progress made in the development of safer and more effective tanks, as we walked along the various tanks from the different periods. The technology-driven Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of the twenty first century is a far cry from the 1940s in their fight for independence. Most Israeli citizens are required to serve in the IDF for a period of 2-3 years. Israel is unique in that military service is for both males and females. We visited their living quarters and talked to a few of the soldiers. Accommodations are not what I remember as an 18 year old! Celeste knew a great deal more to share with us, as she has volunteered a few times to serve on the bases in the SAR EL Volunteer Program.

Ethiopian Absorption Settlement - to provide re-settlement experiences for children into Israeli society. We were warmly greeted by the director and their Druze head teacher. After an introduction, which included a history of how many struggled  and sustained hardships to reach the Promised Land, we were given a brief background of the purpose of this settlement.

There are, as expected, many developmental challenges which children must cope in order to succeed.  We were then invited to meet the children and enjoy their Chanukah songs and dances. This was a heartwarming experience for all. Basically, children are children all over the world and with loving care and educational opportunities have the possibility to succeed! Israel has a large capacity for reaching out and taking in our people! Incredible!

Jerusalem - The song Jerusalem of Gold played as we approached The Holy City our bus traveled through a tunnel and exited into the sunlight of Jerusalem. Our group was unusually quiet and I for one was “choked” with a sense of awe!  It was indeed, an emotional moment.

"Lifeline of the Aged"  Yad Lakashish is a non profit based in Jerusalem that provides employment and social services to over 300 elderly artisans. They are from varied ethnic and social background, speaking many languages. All the elderly workers receive a small stipend for their work.

This place provides a place where people can find companionship and dignity through their work efforts. Their gift shop displays their beautiful ceramics, prayer shawls etc. It is amazing that a smile or warm touch can result in a shared moment of happiness. I “spoke” to many who didn’t speak English, and yet we managed to” understand” each other. One of the workers gave me a pine cone and I was happy to receive it! WOW! It IS all about connecting with others on many different and creative levels of communication.

Herzl Museum: Includes a spectacular encounter with the visionary of the Jewish State, Theodore Herzl. Herzl was a Jew trying to flee the hate of anti-semitism.  He delivered the right message at the right time-but he was totally incapable of putting it into effect. Having traveled the country for two weeks, I realized I had seen much of his vision come true. He reminded the world of the Jews’ connection to the Land of Israel.  Very Poweful!

Our B’nai Amoona Group:  We were able to really get to know many of our own
congregants from B’nai Amoona as well as new-comers. There were lots of laughs, stories, and a few mishaps. All in all, it was a fun group! There was Moshe, our tour guide, sharing information about places visited, but also having fun with us with his “true stories!” We responded to his questions to receive an “authentic” brochure because it had a green boarder. Harriet was great. She provided lots of suggestions, laughs, candy and crystal light packets to all who had difficulty drinking large quantities of water. We were constantly reminded by Rabbi Rose that we were “dehydrating as we speak.’ Gerry and Celeste worked hard to keep our group “in line”, a difficult but necessary task to keep us moving and on time. Yuval, our bus driver, was designated as the Number1 Israeli Bus Driver by our group. He was great!

Rabbi Rose was so entertaining with his fast quips on just about anything and everything. I loved when he told us that this walk or that was just twenty minutes long. Well in retrospect it was good for us. And than there was Marilyn, who having returned to the bus after each stop, reported “that this was the highlight of the trip!” And yes, for many of us this entire experience was one of the highlights of our lives. I do believe that every Jew needs to visit Israel. For me, it was an infusion of Jewish Pride!

Thank all of you for making this possible!

And I want to say, thank you Aunt Carla for these wonderful memories you shared with us.

Hatikva: "The Hope" - National Anthem of Israel:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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