“Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey… ”
On January 14th, we left for Israel. I am sure all 14 of us travelers will have stories to tell about Israel, the people, the places and the trip, but I want to talk about the group who went. No names, but I am sure you will know who I am speaking about.
During this past year has, as Jim Mattis, Z”L, would put it the Angel of Death has not been kind to us. Not to our congregation, but also not kind to San Bernardino, or Paris or Israel. In fact, when we started making arrangements for the trip to Israel, several members, all ladies, expressed concerns over safety. Richard Eisenberg, our tour contact and I had many discussions over whether to come or postpone. The comment that touched each of us was when he said, “If the violence is so bad that people are staying in their hotels and not going from their rooms to see Jerusalem (for example), I am going to cancel the tour.”
Once the group, 2-to-1 made up of women, heard that, they were relieved, NO, eager to go. One participant’s only concern was that she would slow up the group and keep them from seeing everything. We told her, we are a unit. We go together and if we go a little slower, more to concentrate on seeing. Really, how many of us lose sight of the beauty of the small in our haste to see the grandiose. To me that is not a grand thing to do. Another member of the group said this was on her ‘Bucket list’ and she would be “darned if a little terrorist would stand in the way of her dreams!” Another took to learning Hebrew with an app (application) on her phone. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, after 26 years of British occupation, most Israelis would rather practice their English on Americans than help us speak Hebrew. Oh well. Another couple in the group were newly married and this was their honeymoon. They decided to come with us because another group member told the couple how caring we are. In fact, the name of the tour is “TBE of Burbank, the Temple with a heart Israel trip.”
As Rabbi and co-leader of the trip, I received some pretty interesting emails about Israel, the tour itself, the accommodations and medical situations. We found out answers and as soon as we shared them, it seemed, the fear dissipated.
This month the world celebrates Valentine’s Day, a holiday dedicated to love. The group I led to Israel, showed love in the most basic manner, with courage, with determination and their love for the land of our people, serves as a beacon for the rest of to do what we should. If we want to give those who would destroy Israel victory. Don’t come with us the next time. But if we want to defeat those same villains, keep signing up to go to Israel. Our young people have the Birthright Program. Maybe we need to organize a middle aged trip to Israel, so more will go. We could call it ‘Birth tight’ for all the muscle spasms we will get, but it will be worth it! In recent months, different tour groups have cancelled out. I must reiterate, not our group! From that first reassurance, our ladies never looked over their shoulders or back. It was forward ahead and let us absorb all that Israel has to offer. And the stories we will tell you!!!!