Shabbat Shalom: Reflections from Our ISTers

Jul 2, 2021

The concept of inheritance is a reoccurring theme in the Torah and for the Jewish People. What can be transmitted from one generation to another? What obligation does one generation have to later generations? What rights do later generations have to inherit. What obligations do a later generation have to receive? Whether material goods, assets, a namesake or culture, the passing on of valuables and values assumes a giver and receiver in this transmission.

This week’s Torah portion recounts the sub-division of Israel as an inheritance to each of the tribes of the people Israel – a transmission of rights in a context of obligation. Today, as our two Joyce Zeff Israel Summer Tour groups continue to enjoy their discovery of Israel, this theme of inheritance and transmission persists. What is our shared obligation to pass on the connection with Israel? What is our obligation to ensure each generation feels this connection, and understands the richness of the modern State of Israel? What is our obligation to enable each generation to live in full relationship with the dynamism of Israel and of the Jewish People?

I believe this obligation is great, and I am so proud of our community’s work to make this happen. With this in mind, I am thrilled to share with you reflections by our Joyce Zeff IST participants.

“The world believes this country is infatuated with turmoil, but the only infatuation is kindness. You’ll always find a friend in Tel Aviv waiting for you!” – Ari

“There is nothing like a tall rickety tower, a beautiful Negev sunset, and some great friends to celebrate Israel with. This beautiful country stuns me every morning; thank you IST 2021” – Aaron

“I love Israel. To know and learn about how thousands of years ago my ancestors were in this land has truly been special. Simultaneously, this trip has given me the opportunity to hear from multiple perspectives on modern day problems and form my own perception of Israel” – Manny

“When you go to Israel, it’s not the diverse amazing culture that drags you deeper into the country but the sense of belonging and connectedness to your worlds roots” – Brayden

“I think we’ve all realized that this trip isn’t an introduction to Israel, it’s a welcome home celebration” – Mitch

“One of the first things when we landed that truly made me feel like we were in Israel was our first Shabbat. After an incredibly long day of traveling and waiting in line, we got together to have a makeshift shabbat in the hotel hallways. Everyone was so exhausted but we all still said the prayers. The most significant thing I noticed was that this was the first time I had sung the prayers in public and wasn’t paranoid about what someone was going to think if they passed by us. I didn’t experience any weird stares or judgmental looks from strangers. I felt as if we could all sing the prayers as loud as we wanted because everyone around us knew what we were doing, what we were saying and why we were doing it. It felt nice to not have to explain my Judaism to people passing by like I have in the past. It was one of the first things that really made me feel like I belong in Israel.” – Lucy

[On this trip,] “I realized that I have so much more to learn about the conflict going on in Israel. It was amazing to hear the other side of the story from a direct source. I really feel that IST is not biased towards one side of the Israeli conflict, and I appreciate how the program is working to educate us on all aspects of Israel, regardless of controversy. I have already learned so much during the first week of my time in Israel, and I am excited to continue to absorb myself in all that IST has to offer.” – Malka

And one more poignant visit for our IST 2020 students. They visited the Lebanese border and met with an IST alumnus – Evan Callisher who was on IST in 2014. Evan moved to Israel and joined the IDF after attending the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO

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