Congregational Israel Mission 2016

We asked our congregants who went on the Cincinnati Jewish Community Israel Trip this past July to share their stories and pictures. The September issue of Shofar Soundings and the October issue will feature some each month. We’ll also be featuring them on the website as well. Enjoy!

“I had a great desire to experience Israel, its blend of ancient and modern, its evidence of the survival of my people. I expected a routine educational tour, but have exciting and amazing memories. I expected to be part of a group, but became a member of a family of “Rockdale Angels.” It was emotional and fulfilling, but more difficult physically than I had anticipated and will forever be grateful to all who made it possible for me. The love of Israel and Judaism are blessings that I will cherish forever and hope to impart to family and friends.”

-Fay B May

jane & bob g

“I had often wondered why Birthright for Adults didn’t exist. I had gone to Israel 39 years ago, but the experience I returned with from the Cincinnati Mission was much different through adult eyes. It was richer, deeper, with a better understanding of the complicated balance both outside and inside the state’s borders. Coupled with strategically placed speakers and experiences, this trip re-connected me to both Israel as well as Rockdale congregants. Those that I nodded to in passing at Rockdale I now consider friends who I love and care about and miss being with each day. The rabbi produced a spectacular itinerary that was to be envied by others, thoroughly enjoyed by us and our guide Keren (pictured with us) was “AMAZING”!”

-Jane & Bob Garfield


“For us, Israel came into sharp focus on a narrow road between two now ancient Syrian minefields on the Golan Heights. There we could see the narrow land at our feet and all of the dangers and ill will that press on the country, that still aim down from either side. We saw a symbol, too. The narrow line within which the country’s leaders and thinkers must tread between the religious and secular world.

Nearby our caravan of Jeeps and Land Rovers which had soldiered us up the steep slope looking down on Israel’s northernmost kibbutz, our guide, despite being a jovial man, soberly related his story of how he lost his wife to terrorists and suffered years of paralysis from the wounds he received in the same attack.He had nearly decided on returning to his birthplace, France. But he drew on the founders’ courage to build this this narrow land. It was home.

We live in a country that is as wide as a continent with plenty of elbowroom. So much so, that we don’t realize that the same dangers, ill will, and self-inflicted wounds and divisions exist. There is plenty of Israel here and we don’t see it. We don’t see our own resoluteness. We don’t have that same focus you could see on that washboard road through the Golan.

This moment had its own contrasts, too, coming as it did between a pleasant lunch of kosher gelato and wine tasting later. But such is hardly peculiar to Israeli sensibilities, living amid the sweet as they do and negotiating the poignant.”

-Jim & Lori Reidel


“When we heard about the 2016 Cincinnati Congregation & Community Israel Mission, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. We had been to Israel 4 previous times, but not in the last 21 years! We both looked forward to both the micro-experience of traveling with our rabbi and our congregation and the macro-experience of being part of an historic community mission. Nothing could have prepared us for how impactful this trip would be. We connected in such meaningful ways with Rabbi Coran and Rabbi Kraus—how lucky we were to learn from both of them, each of them sharing their particular knowledge and expertise. The events for the whole mission were awesome—being together with so many Jewish Cincinnatians in Israel! What a formidable group we were! Our visit to the Reform congregation Natan-ya was eye-opening. We learned so much about the challenges for liberal Judaism in Israel and returned eager to do more to advance diversity and tolerance in the Jewish homeland. We also loved the visits to Zippori and Akko, where the sense of the many layers of history and civilization were so apparent. These were sites we had not visited on previous trips, and we were thrilled to experience these special places with “Bus 1”, and to return home feeling so much more engaged with and committed to our Rockdale Temple family.”

-Abby & David Schwartz

Look back for more Israel stories and pictures in the next couple of weeks!