JJC Israel Journey Final Day and Final Thoughts
We packed up our bags, and a song hits my brain- Machar Ani Babayit (definitely more political than my reference, but it means “tomorrow I’ll be home.”)
It was a potluck last day as we made our way from the Galilee to the ancient city of Tzippori, home to some exquisite mosaic floor designs. Tzippori also housed the ancient rabbinic Sanhedrin court following the Bar Kochba revolt, at the time of the Mishnah codifier himself, Judah Hanasi. Seeing the zodiac symbols on the ancient floors (and also learning how they used a “Botox” approach to restoring it) reminded me of a synagogue in Boro Park that also has zodiac symbols in its sanctuary (guess they caught on).
From Tzippori we traveled to meet our P2G friends from Hadera at the youth crisis village Neve Michael. We meet Hava, who I met 3.5 years ago on a Federation Educators’ Mission, as she reiterates a common need to heal the world: love. I was happy to be wearing a t-shirt with words of love inspired by the words of Lin Manuel Miranda. We tour the facility and learn about Sulamot (http://adipose.org/support/music-for-social-change/ ), an organization that partners the village with members of the Israeli Philharmonic. All the kids want is a sense of normalcy and to be loved. Quite powerful.
As a side note, I didn’t think I could have a greater adventure than meeting another doppelgänger on Wednesday morning. But alas! Hana mentioned jokingly that she may lock the door to our meeting room until we raise enough funds to support their cause. I subsequently got locked in a bathroom stall and had to climb out a window and jump 15 feet to the ground! I WILL make it back in one piece for Koltrain Friday night!!!
We returned to Tel Aviv after a photo stop by the Roman aqueducts (a short drive from Hadera). We tour Tel Aviv’s first street as well as learn about the craziness of May 14,1948 and all that had to transpire to create that moment of David Ben Gurion announcing Israel’s independence. We had a celebratory dinner by the airport before heading in many different directions.
I hope that our trip was transformative for everyone who participated. Our guide, Morgi, was knowledgable and sensitive to the needs of all. You can feel her love of people and country when we ended up meeting a few dozen of her friends/fellow guides/students along the way.
Our youth guide Shira really connected with our families and our driver Adi was also fantastic! I’ve never experienced parallel parking like I did these past few weeks.
The Keshet director, Yitzchak Sokoloff, described his logic in creating trips that parallel those life altering teen tours- this was an active trip, a journey for people to push themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. It was an opportunity to take a different path.
Israel is constantly growing- upwards and outwards. There are so many layers to Israeli history, Israeli society, and Israel’s future. On the first day of the trip, Assaf Luxembourg gave us our first image of Archaeological layering- comparing it to startups being acquired, one on top of the other. Just as an archaeological site grows and expands as we unearth more of our history, visiting Israel, being part of its awesomeness, allows us to dig deeper and appreciate the foundations on which it was formed and the newest layers that add it to its flavor.
Wherever you travel in Israel, there are mezuzot on the door posts of Hotels, restaurants and other public spaces. A mezuza is not only a reminder of God’s presence in our world, but where we come from and where we are going, a reminder of where home is. Like our Torah reading Masei, it’s important to recognize the slalom posts on our journey. When we were leaving Ben Gurion Airport, heading through the tunnel before boarding our plane, I noticed that the mezuza was on the left side of the doorway (the opposite side). As we leave Israel, it’s a subtle reminder that Israel is home. I hope everyone who journeyed to Israel, many for the first time, feel that sense of home.
L’hitra’ot- see you again soon!