WHC goes to Israel

What do you get when you have 20 adults, 13 kids, and 12 days in Israel?  A phenomenal trip!

Our community explored the sights, history, borders, archeological digs, and food the land has to offer.  Those of us on the trip created a bond that will always unite us.  As we learned about the difficulties Israel currently faces with its neighbors, the atrocities that led to its creation, and the effort each Israeli gives to protect the State, we enjoyed each others company and let the land of Israel be the backdrop to newfound friendships. 

Over the course of the 12 days together, we asked everyone what the highlights were.  Aside from learning how each of the modern cities is linked to their recent and more distant past, celebrating both past and present, here are some of the highlights:

The Palmach Museum was a particular favorite among the kids.  The museum is terrific at helping one to understand the personal sacrifice people gave in order to help protect and create the burgeoning State of Israel.  Our kids really walked away with an understanding that the State was created through the personal efforts of everyday people.  As we visited the Lebanese/Israeli border, this understanding deepened.  Here we had the opportunity to hear about the situation as it is on the ground, rather than how it is displayed in the news.  As we talked to soldiers, we all marveled at how differently a situation can be viewed and portrayed, and again, our kids gained a deeper understanding of the personal commitment that all Israelis, both men and women, make in order to protect their homeland.  Many of us left the border lamenting the days when Lebanese Christian children and Israeli Jewish children would talk and play with each other across the border.

Another highlight was “rafting” down the Jordan River.  “Rafting” is in quotes because we were visiting in August.  Yes, there was water, but really our paddling efforts were just used to keep our rafts away from the river banks and to splash those in the neighboring rafts. 

At Yad Vashem, we had the honor of witnessing the new museum and participating in a Twinning Ceremony where all of our b’nei mitzvah were twinned with children who had all been in the same class in the Jewish School in Prague, Czechoslovakia.  Of the 50 kids in the class photo from Prague prior to the war, only about 6 survived.  One of the classmates who survived took it upon himself to find out the fate of all of the kids in the photo.  Our 10 b’nei mitzvah students will now forever be linked to 10 of the students in this photo and will each find their own way of remembering their “twin” to make sure his or her memory lives on.

Other favorite activities were visiting the Old City, floating in the Dead Sea, a candlelit visit to Nimrod’s Fortress, a jeep tour of the Golan Heights, digging and shimmying through caves in Tel Maresha (we found lots of bones and pottery!), swimming in hotel pools and the Mediterranean, donkey and camel rides, and planting grapevines and fig trees.  After planting at the farm, we had the opportunity to work with an Israeli chef to create Israeli salads, shakshuka, baba ganoush, tahini, hummus, and pita.  Kids and adults alike loved this outing that had plenty of wine, music, dancing, and chopping with sharp knives!  Even the kids chopped!  (Don’t worry, only the veggies got sliced and we all came back with 10 fingers.)

The final highlight, of course, was the b’nei mitzvah of 10 of our kids during Shabbat on top of Beit Shmuel.  It was the “birth of a minyan,” and was a moment that will stay with all who witnessed it for years to come.   

Click here to view more photos from this year’s trip!

If you are interested in learning more about our next Congregational trip to Israel please contact Layne Weiss.