Monday, August 16, 2010

more than a 'tourist' trip

My Dear Congregation,
Shalom!! Despite the heat, I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful summer and is in good health. We have spent time this summer with Menachem and Liz and the grandchildren in California and our elders (my mom, aunt and father-in-law) in New York. I have already written several of the High Holy Day Sermons and look forward to sharing these sacred times with you. The New Year is almost upon us, yet we have a little more time of summer.
There was a wonderful response to my initial blurb about going to Israel next December to "Stand With Israel" in these days. I am truly encouraged that from only that bulletin article came such a response. I know that others are talking about it and am putting this out on the listserv to share this the information with everyone. I look forward to a wonderful response!
ITC Tours, the company that I used in the past has developed a fantastic itinerary. For anyone that has been to Israel in the past, there will certainly be a few reprises, but then again, this is more than just a 'tourist' trip but also a semi-pilgrimage, and so we do return to the Kotel, etc. Yet there will be many new places that we did not go in the past. For first-time travelers I hope that it will just whet the appetite for return visits. It will be an phenomenal experience!
While nothing is set in stone, this is the plan as currently developed:
Proposed departure
on December 21st, 2010
Proposed return
on December 30th, 2010. [most of 2 days is spent flying. we try to fly through the night and not 'waste' more time when we land.] You would be back in time for New Year's Eve! This can  be modified to be shorter if necessary, but it would mean the elimination of some of the components detailed below. Also, if you wish to stay longer, the ticket can be arranged in advance and avoid an extra cost of changing it. This needs to be done from the very beginning. Let me know if this is something you might wish to do.
Viewing Jerusalem from Mt. Olives and visit oldest Jewish cemetery opposite the Old City
Visit the world renowned Rockefeller Museum with most special antiquities
Kotel Tunnels
Southern Wall Excavations
Ein Gedi
Swim in Dead Sea [weather permitting]
Shabbat in Jerusaelm !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yad Vashem
Light and Sound Show in David's Tower - really beautiful
Gush Etzion - south of Jerusalem, that defended southern approach in 1948 War of Independence
Caesaria or Megiddo along the coast
Visit Emek Hefer and stay overnight with host families. This is our partnership region in Israel.
Day in Tel Aviv
    Independence Hall
    Panoramic View of Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa
    Museum of the Diaspora
Cost:  Based on 20 individuals, and two in a room, the "Land Only" package is $1955 per person. They estimate the round trip airfare from Richmond to be about $1750. Total is about $3,700 per person which is a very good price considering that we are going in the second highest peak season. If the group would reach 25 people there is a modest decrease, similarly if it reaches 30 and so on (miracles might occur!?!) The way they kept the cost was to select a modest hotel. I think that it is a good balance since it will more economical and thus enabling people to financially manage the cost and it has excellent location and food! If indeed the group would like a higher class hotel, that can be priced, but we need to all be in the same place.
I truly hope that this has piqued your interest!  Please respond to me at  I will then take the next steps of forwarding to you the appropriate documents from ITC to continue the steps and then have a meeting in our home, the first of several in terms of preparation and details. Please make sure that you have a passport now. If you have to apply or renew you can do it now without the rush and extra expense!
I encourage you to share this information with anyone else who you feel might be interested. If they have more detailed questions, feel free to email me and I will quickly get back to  you and anyone else. This trip is open to anyone in our community and beyond.  This is a great opportunity and I hope many will join us!
Perhaps an added incentive for this trip is the video that I am attaching. I have now watched it three times and it has moved me to tears and affirmed the necessity of being in Israel to see and be seen. It is so different living in the huge United States with friends north and south, from being in Israel when those directions are only enemies. If "We Are One" is to be more than a slogan, then we must turn it into action. Our action. We must walk the walk. Watch the video and then consider the power and impact that a trip to Israel will make on each of us and on Israel.
Again, our best wishes for a cooler and enjoyable summer. Ruby and I look forward to hearing from you in the affirmative and traveling to Israel with you on a most special experience.
Shalom uv'racha,
Rabbi & Ruby