As we are approaching the conclusion of our 2017 Women's Journey to Israel, we are all asking one another 'what was your 'wow' moment of the trip? That's always a risk, as each day brought new 'wow' moments to add to the list and some of us still have several days to go. For some it was the first day, as we sat in Independence Hall in the very place where Israel was declared a state. For many it was the inspirational Rosh Chodesh worship with Women of the Wall (WOW), and the beauty of being together in prayer, despite the distraction of those heckling and attempting to disrupt our prayers. I'm sure the women who experienced reading from or blessing the sacred Torah, many for the first time, could not have imagined how meaningful that moment would be in that holiest of places. Others loved the opportunity to share Shabbat dinner in the homes of members of Achvah VaKerem, an Israeli Reform community in Jerusalem. The excursion to Masada and Qumran (the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), and floating in the Dead Sea was certainly a highlight for many, especially our three intrepid travelers who braved the walk up the Snake Path at the crack of dawn, just as the Zealots of the first century did when they fled the Roman invaders. And what a 'wow' experience it was to celebrate Shabbat atop Masada, hearing the voices women in prayer and song, lifted up and soaring over the Judaean Hills.
For me, the 'wow' moment was watching 46 women from different communities and different backgrounds, first timers and experienced Israel travelers, WRJ leaders, and those newly experiencing the world of sisterhood -- a 'mixed multitude' of women -- coming together and becoming a community of women experiencing a remarkable journey. Our ancestors in the wilderness emerged from Egypt a disparate group yet became a people through their journey and shared experience at Sinai. So too, our band of sisters came from many different places and motivations, yet together we formed a community through shared experience, inspirational worship, adventurous travel, and open-hearted willingness to share this emotional journey together.
I feel blessed to have been part of the journey with these special women. My prayer is that many of you reading this message will join WRJ the next time we offer such an opportunity. It will be the adventure of a lifetime!