Three Generations

by Robbin Botnick, July 8, 2018

I was very fortunate to take my first trip to Israel this past June. Given some of the political issues of the last few months, admittedly I had some reservations, but once I arrived I felt safe and welcome. As we roamed through Tel Aviv and later Jerusalem, I was so cognizant of the young soldiers, they seemed to be everywhere. I looked at these young people and could not help to feel some sadness that all or most Israeli’s youth at 18 must join the army. I cannot imagine sending my own daughters off to learn to fight instead of off to the University dorms, but this is the reality that Israelis face to ensure that Israel will continue to exist. The soldiers are incredible young people, who sacrifice their youth with hopes that this sacrifice will one day lead to a future generation who can choose to defend their country but is not made to. I also learned a great deal more about the politics of Israel. There is no question that the politics are complicated but what I really didn’t appreciate is how poorly our Canadian news outlets really report on what is happening. We are fortunate in Canada to get reasonable news coverage, however, we need to be aware that the media is not always fair and to truly understand what is happening we really to talk to all sides with a very open mind.

It was an incredible experience having the opportunity to travel both with my mother and my daughter, following her Taglit (Birthright) trip. We were fortunate on our first day to have the opportunity to visit Darchei Noam, our sister congregation in Ramat Hasharon. We met with Ilana Dothan, the long serving Synagogue President, her husband Yoav and Brenda Alony. We talked a great deal about the challenges faced by reform congregations in Israel and how important our partnership and support is for the congregation which receives absolutely no support or funding from the government, unlike Orthodox Synagogues. They also shared that the elevator which they have been building, with the help of Solel, is nearly operational and will allow the congregation to utilize the second floor of the building which they cannot use until it is fully accessible. We talked at length about what we can do to build our congregational relationship and in the fall we will look at some new ways to introduce our children to the children of Darchei Noam.

Following our visit to Darchei Noam we spent some time in Tel Aviv. We were fortunate to be there during pride week and I was so impressed to see how welcoming Israelis were to the LGBTQ community. Given the challenges in the rest of the region, it is incredible to see what an inclusive society Israel is. Tel Aviv hosted one of the largest pride parades in the world.

Our trip was jammed packed with visits to Caesarea, The Bhai Gardens, Rosh HaNikra, Mount of Olives, The Old City of Jerusalem, The City of David, Masada, Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, The Dead Sea, The Israel Museum and Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. I have hundreds of pictures but perhaps the few things that stood out most for me were the visit to the City of David and Yad Vashem. We were fortunate to have an incredible tour guide throughout the old City but when we got to the City of David we were able to access an archeological dig site. Throughout Israel I found it very humbling to be walking through over 5000 years of human history. To be on a dig site as the archeologists were finding evidence of civilizations thousands of years old was remarkable. I was also incredibly moved by the experience at Yad Vashem. The Museum is incredible and walking over the shoes of those who lost their lives was really impactful to me. The Museum should serve to remind us that we cannot forget the politics of the 1930’s and we need to be the messengers of “Never Again”.

I feel truly fortunate to have experienced Israel with 3 generations. Although some of us could have spent more time at the beach in Tel Aviv, it was incredible and a trip I will never forget!

Filed under: President's Message

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