HOW CAN YOU put into words the experience of a sumptuous sunset on the Mediterranean with its magnificent colors, the expansion of both the sea and the sky touching—bonded together by the blinding, sinking globe of intense golden light, the freshness of the air, the salty breeze, the actual moment of perfection?
How can you put into words the experience of being alone in the desert… the vastness of the endless space… the grains of sand… the echoes of history… the silence within and without? The footsteps of Abraham and Sarah… the caves within the mountains where David hid… the Masada hilltop palace of Herod, and the last stand of the Jewish Zealots?
How can you put into words the beauty of the Kinneret, the Sea of Galilee? The smooth, blue water reflecting the foothills of the Golan… the memories of the early Halutzim/Pioneers…the birth of the kibbutz movement…the poetess Rahel’s words “Oh my Kinneret, my Kinneret… were you real, or only a dream?”
How can you put into words the rolling hills of the Golan Heights…leading up to the sometimes snowcapped Mount Hermon in the distance… secretive views of Syria and Lebanon from afar…battlefields of war torn glory and vineyards of well-seasoned wine…factories of chocolate and grazing land for cattle… and cherry blossoms and apple trees and summer fruits aplenty?
How can you put into words the hills and valleys of the Galilee…the spring inspired streams flowing into the Jordan River… the flourishing farm lands… the Jewish National Fund forests… the well preserved nature reserves with historical findings dating back thousands of years?
And how can you explain the contrast of the hustle and bustle of the never sleeping, white city of Tel Aviv, with the spiritual aura of Jerusalem… a city of holiness and history for our Jewish people, and shared with the other faiths of Abraham? A gold dome, walls within walls, and the ultimate wall of the West, the Kotel, which reminds our people of the once-standing Temple atop the Mount?
How can one put all these images into words?
You need to experience it. You need to travel to the ancient homeland of the Jewish people which—with the jump start of Jewish nationalism and Zionism in the late 1800s into the 1900s—led to the reestablishment of the modern day Jewish State of Israel in 1948…a return to a land that the Jewish People last called their national home in 70 years! That’s quite a hiatus!
And, just as we change, Israel changes. It is not a “once in a lifetime experience,” but rather one that should be experienced over and over again. Israel is the land of our family, our collective memory, the symbolic homeland of our four thousand year old Peoplehood. Whether you’re a teen, a college student or young adult, single or with a family, alone or with your synagogue or tour group, Israel is the destination of our origins and the home of the majority of Jews around the world.
Now, to quote one of the Rabbinical greats, Rabbi Hillel, “If not now, when?”
Now is the time to plan your next trip to Israel. Maybe you dream of being at the Kotel for the High Holy Days? Or possibly a Bedouin Tent experience in the desert to commemorate Sukkot? It could be you that would like to commemorate Hannukah in the ancient Maccabean village of Modi’in or plant a tree in the one of the numerous forests for Tu B’sh’vat? Ever gone to an Israeli bakery to try a calorie filled creamy hamentashin for Purim or drunk four cups of wine from an Israeli boutique winery for Passover? Or to be present for the meaningful ceremonies of Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Memorial Day at Yad V’shem, the National Holocaust Museum, or of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery? And who could resist the country-wide street party with music and fireworks for Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day?
Yes, Horace Greeley is quoted to have said “Go West,” but it was Yehuda Halevi who was quoted to have said, “My heart is in the east!” Follow your heart… and besides, living in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys you can’t really go much further west.
But where do I begin, you might ask yourself?
Funny you should ask!
The Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys has many resources at your disposal. To learn more about Israel travel, from teen trips to Birthright programs to family trips to local synagogue group travel. We encourage you to contact them. it might just be worth your while! For more information please call (626) 445-0810.