Solidarity Mission to Israel

In 1982, on my first trip to Israel, I climbed Masada. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve climbed this mountain since. I jokingly refer to the first sight-seeing tour of Israel as the “climbing Masada trip.” Whether it’s the high-school trip, the summer trip, the Birthright trip, the synagogue trip, the Federation trip, or any other first-time trip, there is a very good chance that climbing Masada will be part of it. There is also a very good chance that unless you are a pulpit rabbi or Federation executive who goes on many first-time trips, you will not climb Masada a second time.

We will not be climbing Masada on next month’s solidarity mission to Israel.

This trip is not intended for the first-timer (although all are welcome). It will not be a vacation. We are going for a reason. We’re going with a mission.

First and foremost, we’re going to show our support to our friends in Eshkol. We’ve sent our money and we’ve sent our prayers, but now they need our hugs, and we can only give these in person. We’ll find some who have returned to Eshkol, and we’ll find some who are still temporarily living in Ein Gedi. We’ll see what kind of temporary arrangements they’ve made for living and schooling. We’ll try to give comfort.

Second, we’re going to bear witness to the atrocities of October 7. We’ll meet with victim and hostage families. We’ll visit with the wounded. We’ll receive military briefings.

Third, we’re going to spend a little time volunteering. There are many volunteer opportunities in Israel now as thousands of people have been called up for military service, thousands have been evacuated from their homes, and there is a country to rebuild. Many from around the world are going to Israel to help for weeks at a time. We will spend a few hours volunteering with Leket, the national food bank of Israel, to lend support and get a feel for this need.

We’ll wrap our trip with a visit to Jerusalem. We’ll hope for some inspiration from the Hand in Hand school where Jews and Arabs study together. We’ll visit Machane Yehuda to see the pre-Shabbat bustle. We’ll spend Shabbat with my friend and Albany native Rabbi Sam Shor.

If this interests you, and your passport is up to date, please register here. If your heart is set on climbing Masada first, we understand. This trip is not for everyone.

Note: If you are interested in our trip and looking for a roommate, please let me know.