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Building a Strong Relationship with the Land of Israel Nov-8-11

Building a Strong Relationship with the Land of Israel


Dear Friends,

I don’t have the best memory of details from my childhood or even early adolescence. I have always lamented that fact, particularly because Shoshana has amazing memories of being a child. It simply is not a blessing I enjoy. However, I do have amazingly vivid memories of the mission trip to Israel my family took when I was 13. I remember boarding the El Al flight with a new Gameboy given to me by my parents for the long trek. I remember getting off the plane and watching grown-ups kiss the tarmac. I remember going to the kotel for the first time and spelunking through the tunnels under the Old City. I remember walking around the old city of Yaffo at dusk and picking out a tallit at Gabrieli’s. I remember more of that first trip to Israel than I do of my own bar mitzvah, my High School graduation, and pretty much every other event in my youth. Needless to say, the trip made an indelible impression on me. I consider it to be one of my most formative Jewish experiences.

As American Jews we have an obligation to be hovevei tzion, lovers of Israel. Often, we express that love by educating ourselves about the nuances of Israeli society, reading about Israel in the news, and of course, debating the correct path to peace in the Middle East. However, to truly fall in love with our holy land, we must see it with your own eyes, if only for a short time. We must get a taste of what it means to be in a place where the majority of the people are Jewish. We must experience what it is like to hear people speak our holy language in the streets, on the radio, and in taxis. We must visit the site where Abraham almost sacrificed his son to G-d, where David hid from King Saul, where Jewish pioneers turned swamps into forests, and deserts into kibbutzim. To fall in love with Israel for the first time or the tenth time is to eat shawarma with a laffa and shakshuka with pita on the streets of Jerusalem.

Today, I invite you all to give your children or grandchildren the gift given to me by my parents, the gift of a thrilling, relationship-building adventure in Israel. This June 17th-27th, Rabbi Pressman and I will be leading concurrent trips to Israel. Rabbi Pressman will be leading a “Touring and Torah Israel” trip, and I will be leading a “multi-generational Israel Adventure” trip. On December 1st, we will have an informational meeting about the trips in the sanctuary at 7:30pm.

I know the trips are expensive and many are experiencing financial hardships, but this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cement your love for the land of Israel and expose your children and grandchildren to the beauty, complexity, and hope that is our holy Land. I never properly thanked my parents for taking me to Israel as a child—for allowing me the privilege of getting to know our homeland with all of my senses. That first trip with my family paved the way for my love of Israel to blossom as I became an adult and a rabbi. So, mom and dad, I just want to publicly thank you for making sacrifices so we could take that trip. I know it was not easy financially, but it was worth every penny.


Rabbi Philip R. Ohriner

Itinerary for “Touring and Torah Israel” trip

Itinerary for “multi-generational Israel Adventure” trip