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6http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2010/05/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---10_5_28
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 10_5_28
05/28/2010 02:57 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon

by David Lyon

5-28-2010

In two days, 52 members of Beth Israel will embark for Israel. This will be the first trip for most of the travelers. We met recently to talk about plans, the itinerary, and how to prepare for the trip. We’ll arrive in Tel Aviv, and tour the city before heading north for two days and then south to Jerusalem. The daily schedule is full of tours, sites to see, foods to taste, and interesting speakers and new experiences. It’s difficult to know what’s on everyone’s mind about the journey.

Leaving for a trip to Israel makes many people think about comforts of home they’re leaving behind. Are there hairdryers in the hotel rooms, is not an unfamiliar question. Will there be restroom breaks, is of great interest. Are there a lot of lectures, is a concern. Yes, yes, and no, are some of the answers. Israel is unlike the familiar photos of dusty archaeological sites. Though there are many dusty sites, Israel is a very modern country. Its technology is at pace with the United States. On my last visit to Israel in 2009, it was difficult to find an Israeli without a cell phone. In a country of modern conveniences, we will experience religion, politics, and culture as it has been lived for centuries. We’ll walk on Jerusalem stones from the 1st century CE, and observe military maneuvers from the 21st. There’s no other place on earth where the same thing can be done.

We’ll bring home pictures and souvenirs. But, as it often happens, everyone will come home with something they can’t easily share in pictures or mementos. There’s just something that one’s eyes, ears, hearts and hands have to sense. A postcard from Israel can’t recreate the unique rhythm of a place where life is at once Jewish, Middle Eastern, western, ancient and modern. If you’ve been to Israel before, I urge you to remember more than the sites you visited. For a moment, close your eyes and feel beneath your feet what it felt like to walk on Jerusalem stones, or where you put your hand when you prayed at the Western Wall. Recall the sounds of the streets in Tel Aviv, and the rush you felt when you reached the top of Masada. And, remember Shabbat in Israel, when you rested in the Holy Land.

If you’re on our trip or going soon for the first time, take more than pictures and come home with more than souvenirs. Use your senses and record everything in your eyes, ears, heart and hands. You might make notes in a journal, but don’t struggle to find the words you need. Write what comes to you and let them be “t’fee-lat ha-lev” or prayers of the heart.

Finally, it’s a custom to give to travelers to Israel, a written prayer on a small piece of paper to put into the Western Wall, or a dollar to give as tzedakah to a poor person. If you want to participate, email me a small prayer or make a contribution. I’ll receive your email in Israel, and I intend to bring with me many dollars to give away on behalf of Beth Israel and friends like you.

Friday night at Shabbat services in the Gordon Chapel at 6:30pm, all the travelers will be called to the bemah for a blessing. Wish the group well on its journey and let them bring to Israel your good wishes, hopes and dreams.

From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom, and next week from Jerusalem.

_________________________________________________

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