Anyone who has traveled to Israel knows how exhausting the first day can be after an overnight flight with no sleep, fighting jet lag and struggling to stay awake through the inevitable full schedule from the moment of landing. So went today. The moment we landed, our friend, guide, chaperone and WRJ Israel maven, Resa Davids, shepherded us through visits with the leadership of the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism), Beit Daniel (Tel Aviv’s premier Reform congregation) and the WRJ-Israel leaders of one of our newest progressive congregations in Even Yehuda, a growing ‘exurb’ of Tel Aviv. I almost wrote that these were ‘meetings’ but in fact, they were not. To me, the word ‘meetings’ implies sitting around a table, listening to a presentation, deliberations, and decisions. We did some of that, to be sure, but these opportunities for connections were so much more. We engaged in conversations. We shared our common challenges and struggles. We traded insights and secrets and best practices. We wrestled with big-picture issues like the future of Reform Judaism, the changing landscape of Jewish institutional life, the role of women in North American and Israeli society, the visions that we share and what we can learn from one another. Exhausting, to be sure, but exhilarating and energizing as well. Our Israeli counterparts treasure their deepening relationship with WRJ and are very gracious and welcoming hosts. For me, the biggest ‘hiddush’ (insight) so far is that WRJ is, and can be, so much more than a funder of some of these Israel programs. We have the potential to be true partners with them, and to learn and grow as much from them as they benefit from our YES Fund dollars. I came away from this day inspired and ready to learn more from our friends in Israel – after a good night’s sleep, of course. As an aside, traveling with WRJ President Lynn Magid Lazar has been an absolute joy. No matter how exhausted, she always has a smile and a positive, supportive word for our partners who are doing the work of WRJ Israel. She is a wonderful travel partner for this trip and we are both looking forward to bringing back many ideas from our WRJ-Israel mission.
October 12, 2021
The fight for freedom of expression in all its forms is not easily attainable, but one we know is crucial to the progress of the State of Israel.