Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why Visit Israel?

Why visit Israel? Here are 25 reasons culled from various sources.*

1) Visiting Israel takes you higher. It heightens your senses. It heightens your awareness. It heightens your sense of self. It heightens your faith. And it heightens your sense of identification with a land, thousands of miles away, a land that is so very dear to us all. Experience Jerusalem, visit Tel Aviv, float in the Dead Sea, tour the Negev, visit Safed, the highest town in Israel, one of the four holy cities of Judaism. Drive into the Galilee hills and ascend up to the Golan.

2) Meet the Family. Israel is filled with unforgettable places, but ultimately what will make this trip so special will be the people that we’ll meet – the ones in the country and the ones in the group. I can think of no group with whom I would rather share these precious days than all of you.

(3) Feeling the serenity of Shabbat in Jerusalem.

(4) The sense of community that exists everywhere, from people annoyingly telling you not to cross the street on the red light (would they bother to do that here?), to the calls you get after every terror attack — to inform you, to console you, to include you.

(5) To show unity and support.

(6) Because it’s our home.

(8) To get back to our “roots,” smell the air and feel the dirt of our ancestors. You can feel the history come up through the soles of your feet.

(9) When I walk anywhere in the country, I always feel that I’m “home.” When I’ve traveled anywhere else in the world, and even where I live, I’m still part of a minority. In Israel, I’m part of something much more — I belong to a vibrant, dynamic, friendly society that has made its own modern history of success.

(10) Seeing the accomplishments of the Israelis . The desert has become alive with bustling cities, and a thriving economy. Visiting Israel now becomes an important statement of support for Israel, and a denial of the philosophy that “fear” will make the Israelis leave.

(11) Everything is better in Israel. Personal relationships are very real and very caring, the air smells better, the food tastes better, the sky is clearer, the birds are happier.

(12) The shwarma at Maoz on King George Street, the shwarma at Masov Burger near the central bus station, to talk to the people who make shwarma, and to see the lambs that become shwarma.

(13) The feeling I experience at the Western Wall. All of life’s idiosyncrasies become smaller when you are engulfed by what’s most important and special.

(14) Eating falafel and chumous in Machaneh Yehudah on Friday.

(15) Because I haven’t been there yet!

(16) To raise the spirits of the Israeli people.

(17) The Bible just comes alive.

(18) To see that Jewish people come in all colors, shapes and sizes and can hold all kinds of jobs……from doctors and lawyers, to police and street cleaners.

(19) To feel connected in the present to past and future at the same time.

(20) The scenery is unparalleled when standing at the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth) and then directly above it at the top of Masada. The unplanned tears that come down your face as you experience the pain of what was lost, but yet the hope of what will come promised through the prophets long ago. It is so awesome beyond words, that when you depart, you cannot say goodbye, only that you will be back. There is an unseen force that draws you in and assures you that you will be back again, it’s where you belong, it’s home.

(21) The incredible sense of unity. Being in Israel makes you feel connected to everything and every person on earth.

(22) To see true permanence. As Mark Twain said, “All things are mortal but the Jew.” In Israel, you can see buildings that were around thousands of years ago, and what could easily be around thousands of years from now. In America, nothing goes back more than a few hundred years (except for a few Native American sites), but those don’t compare to places that are all over Israel.

(23) Miracles occur daily.

(24) Two words: Kosher McDonalds

(25) Because WE’RE GOING! Our group is growing and waiting for YOU! Click here for the full itinerary for next summer’s TBE Israel Adventure.

I close with this poem, by Rabbi Sidney Greenberg:

For the Jew, Israel is a state of mind
It is not only a piece of geography
It is history
It is theology
It is Jewish tears and Jewish triumphs
It is Jewish anguish and Jewish ecstacy
It is childhood legends and biblical verses
It is the direction that we pray and the subject of our prayers
It is exile and homecoming
It is a burning Temple and a new flag at the United Nations
It is the 9th of Av and the 5th of Iyar
It is a people restored and hope reborn

*(including this from Aish and from another blog, Sixty things I love about Israel) :

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