I came into school today to re-aquaint myself with my work, to see what my students had accomplished in my absence, and to plan for the future. I soon realized my view of my curriculum would never be the same. My first glimpse of Israel years ago was Paul Newman, in “Exodus.” It was love at first sight for both! I have always wondered how Israel would really look and feel. I had experienced Israel through the pages of text, film, personal accounts of friends and students, and through photographs. Now however, my lens will be different. After many years of wanting to see Israel first hand, my husband and I finally decided to make the journey.
Our trip began in Tel Aviv at Independence Hall where Ben Gurion proclaimed statehood on May 14, 1948. It was a very emotional experience. My family members from Ranana met us for dinner by the Mediterranean Sea. Each day my husband Clark and I looked at each other and said, “Do you believe we are in Israel?” The days were full with us up at 6:00 am and out the door by 7:30 am, and not back to the hotel until 10:00 every night. Each day felt like a week- a hectic pace, to say the least. We traveled north to the Golan Heights where we could see Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Israel is green! The land beyond the Israeli border is not.
My curriculum came alive. From the date palms to the sand dunes, to Bedouin herds of goats and sheep, wild horses, caves, folded earth as a result of thousands of years of pressure, still evident. Volcanic “stones” in the north more solid as we went south, an amazing tour guide who pointed out the smallest detail including groves of etrogs and bananas. It was like a college course, but even more amazing. It was real, still happening and alive! References to Torah, examples from the Prophets and of course, visits to Yad Vashem, the Kotel, the tunnel tour, Hebrew Union College, Masada, etc. An entire country of Jews! And still so much more to do there.
After Shabbat services at the small Reform synagogue we were taken home for dinner by Israelis who shared their internal challenges and struggles . Reform Judaism is still a step child there. Hopefully one day Reform Judaism will be accepted by all.
People were lovely and welcoming in Israel. We hope to return again someday. Israel is our home- a place from which we all came. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to return.