Israel Firsthand: Highlights from a Hadassah Associates Mission
by Sherryl Kaufman, National Associates Chair
Fabulous! Beyond Expectations! Saw things I never knew existed!
These were some of the testimonials from participants in the October 2017 Associates Mission, Jerusalem and the Spectacular South.
I had the privilege of leading, along with Fred Safer (Immediate Past Associates President), this amazing mission. Our extensive itinerary took us through the sights, sounds, and scents of Jerusalem, into the burgeoning Negev, and then back up to Tel Aviv. During our two-week mission, we experienced the many facets of Israel, from biblical to modern, and everything in between. Through it all we experienced firsthand how ordinary people in Israel live.
Some of the highlights of the trip included:
Biblical: A visit to the City of David and the Sound and Light Show at the Tower of David, which featured scenes representing the periods of Israel&squot;s history.
Modern History: Through the perspective of David Ben-Gurion, touring his grand vision, the developing Negev, his kibbutz home at Sde Boker, and the growing Ben-Gurion University; Tel Aviv sites such as Independence Hall and the Yitzhak Rabin Center; Ammunition Hill, commemorating the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.
Security: The Latrun Tank Museum and an IDF base where we had access to the command post operations room, where IDF soldiers viewed screens 24/7 in four-hour shifts; hearing about the precautions taken for 15-second warnings in communities bordering Gaza.
Modern Life: Our senses were stirred as we meandered through the bustling Machane Yehuda Market on Friday afternoon, then prepping, cooking, and eating the fruits of our culinary labors at Taamin; seeing Tel Aviv's connection to the Silicon Valley, as it becomes home to many US-based IT research facilities such as Google; hearing Jerusalem Post journalists Gil Hoffman and Khaled Abo Toameh (an Israeli-Arab Journalist) speak candidly about current and future prospects for peace.
Religious Life: Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel, witnessing and being part of the Robinson Arch section of the Wall, which allows for egalitarian prayer.
Technological: Dead Sea Waterworks and Solar Energy Plants in the Negev, breathing life into the Negev; Taglit Birthright, viewing technical innovations which will become commonplace in the near future.
Developing Negev: Beersheva, home of Ben-Gurion University: enjoying the fruits of the desert, literally "farm to table" meals; viewing the Ramon Crater at sunrise.
What impressed us most was witnessing how ordinary people live — the everyday lives of Israelis. We visited the new home of Fred and Rena Safer; their grandson's Merchav Am community in the Negev; the Benyamin Region (north of Jerusalem); Sde Boker, so close to the Gaza border that residents used to Gaza to shop; the Salad Trail farm, where we tasted Israeli tomatoes right off the vine; Yaron Bob, who created the Rockets to Roses craft project, making a life-altering decision to channel the trauma of a near fatality into a productive life.
Of course, we experienced a taste of Hadassah. The indomitable Barbara Goldstein led a special welcome for us with a Sheheckeyanu at our hotel, joined us for Shabbat dinner and Havdalah, and led us in a moving prayer at the Valley of the Lost Communities in Yad Vashem. She arranged for a VIP tour of the dual robotic surgical suite at the Sarah Wetsman Davison Tower, which required us to "suit up" in sterile surgical wear.
As we planted trees at the JNF Hadassah Park in Beersheva, we each felt that we had left our mark on the future of Israel.
We all look forward to our next Hadassah Associates Mission where we hope you will join us!
National Associates Chair Sherryl Kaufman presenting Immediate Past Associates President Fred Safer with a Certificate of Appreciation for his service to the Associates
Associates joining author and Holocaust survivor Rena Quint at her home in the German Colony after hearing her inspirational story and book of a childhood lost and wonderful life found
Associates Mission participants planting trees at Hadassah -JNF Park in Beersheva