By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – As vaccination rates rise and the coronavirus pandemic appears to be under control, group trips to Israel from San Diego are once again being organized. One of the first to be made public is a joint trip scheduled for May 15-29, 2022 and sponsored by the San Diego Outreach Synagogue and the Desert Outreach Synagogue, which will be led by Rabbi / Cantor Cheri Weiss and Rabbi Jules King, respectively. .
Rabbi Weiss said the trip will include such “must see” places in Jerusalem at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Kotel and the Knesset, as well as the sites of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and the caves of Rosh HaNikra, located on the Mediterranean border with Lebanon.
Beyond that, she said, there will be events such as âvolunteering at Pantry Packers, preparing food for those in needâ; and visit the Na LaGa’at Arts and Culture Center serving the deaf, blind or both, where these during the trip you will experience meals in the dark “so you have the opportunity to experience this that is only for the visually impaired â.
The two evangelistic congregations are planning to hold an Erev Shabbat musical service on Friday evening during the trip. Shabbat in Israel is always a highlight.
The exact itineraries during the two-week excursion are still being finalized, with Rabbi Weiss available at (858) 829-8178 to discuss specific details and prices for the trip.
In the near future, it is likely that other synagogues, as well as a variety of Jewish organizations, will sponsor their own trips to Israel, each incorporating traditional places to visit as well as specialized places corresponding to the particular interests of the organizations and organizations. synagogues. .
I have had the pleasure of visiting Israel nine times, on some occasions as part of tour packages, such as the one sponsored by the San Diego County Jewish Federation (then called the United Jewish Federation); and on other occasions during private tours or cruise ship stopovers. Every time I go to Israel there is something interesting to see and irresistibly worthy of a story. If you’ve never been to Israel before, I suggest you take an organized tour on your first visit; then on your next trips explore on your own or in the company of Israeli friends or relatives.
Nancy and I traveled from Israel’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria to its southern border wedged between Jordan and Eilat. We traveled from the Mediterranean coast to the easternmost geography of Israel in sight of the Jordanian nation. When we read stories about Israel, we can squint and practically review the places we have visited.
One of the advantages of organized tours is that they are led by a licensed Israeli guide, who must pass very difficult tests in order to gain accreditation with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Guides don’t just know geography; they have studied the history of each place you will visit on the trip; know Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Baha’i religious traditions and are aware of world events and those affecting the Middle East. Wherever you go with them, they have compelling stories to tell. As a rule, bus tours of the country are accompanied by security guards.
Being privately hosted in Israel by friends or relatives allows you to see the country from their perspective. By sitting in their living room, joining them at tables, and walking through their quarters, you get a feel for how the rhythms of the United States and Israel are in some ways similar, and in other ways very different.
Whichever way you choose to go to Israel, the trip is sure to leave an impression on you. No matter where else in the world I travel, there is no other place outside of the United States that I connect with on so many levels. I am sure that will be true for you too.
Donald H. Harrison is Editor-in-Chief of Jewish world of San Diego. He can be contacted via [email protected]