Dear WJC Family,
This week I had the distinct pleasure of driving to Newark Airport. Okay, the drive to Newark may not have been such a privilege, but the purpose of my trip was. I was picking up our oldest son Elijah after six weeks of traveling in Israel with his peers on Ramah Seminar. Tami and I each participated in Seminar when we were his age and it was an amazing and formative experience. However, I think helping our child have his own experience in Israel may be even more incredible . It is one thing to have your own life altering experience; it is quite another to give one.
Now, you may think that the amazing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment Tami and I feel hearing about Elijah’s experiences were only possible because we had that experience ourselves or because Elijah finally had the chance to get to Israel after two postponed trips that made the ability to finally be in Israel a little more sweet, but I think there’s more to it than that. As we read Parshat Va-etchanan this week, what we are really reading is Moses’ preparation speech for sending his children (and his spiritual children) into Israel—without him and with much delay from their original plans. Moses knows how important it is for the children of Israel to come “home” to Eretz Yisrael and he does all he can to help get them ready for this next step in the journey. He can’t speak from experience, as he never had the opportunity to be in this Promised Land, but this is the job God hired him to do, to lead the people to the Promised Land, not in the Promised Land. From the time the Jews left Egypt, this has been Moses’ goal—get the people to Israel.
There are few things that can impact a person like a trip to Israel. There are so many wonderful ways to go – as part of a teen tour, on a gap year or year abroad, with your immediate family, with your synagogue family, with a special topic focus, and more. I’ve been blessed to do several of these kinds of trips myself,and we are excited to be offering a trip geared towards families with elementary and teenage children this December. Like the Children of Israel, this trip did not go when originally planned, but we hope that the changed timing will have some advantages, such as Chanukah in Israel and better alignment with vacation timing for those interested in joining us. If you might be interested in coming with us let me know and click here to see more details.
I am also interested in arranging two other kinds of trips: 1) An “Experience Israel Outdoors Trip” for those who might like to experience the Holy Land differently than they have before: hiking, biking, climbing and/or paddling. And 2) A Culinary and Wine tour of Israel. I am looking for a few people to get in on the ground floor and help me do the preliminary planning of these trips so we can gauge further interest. The advantage to you is you’d get to pick the dates and start setting the agenda with us. If either of those trip styles appeals to you, let me know and we’ll talk.
In the meantime Summer Shabbats continue this week—the sermons and davening have been fabulous so far! Thank you to all who are participating and as always, a special thank you to our extraordinary summer lay leadership coordinator Cindy Heller. I hope you’ll join us this Shabbat.
See you in shul,