I love the beach. If not for work and family obligations, I could probably go every day. We visit the same Northern Massachusetts beach every summer, and it never gets old.
I enjoy visiting family and friends. We have people all over, and we enjoy visiting them regularly.
I enjoy sightseeing and touring as well, but it can get old. I need new sights and new experiences each time. Once I visit a place, I check it off my list and, generally, see little need to return.
And so, what about Israel?
For me, Israel is home, and not just because it is our Homeland. It is the physical home of many family members and friends, and I truly feel at home every time I go. I do believe that everyone should tour Israel at least once or twice, but realistically, once you’ve climbed Masada, how many more times do you need to climb it? I am, however, always eager to go back to visit the people I know.
And this is my vision for Federation’s Teen Mission to Israel. February’s upcoming trip is all about developing relationships with the land and the people of Israel—giving our kids a reason to want to go back. We are not sending them just to tour Israel because they will have those opportunities when they go back for a summer with their youth group, or with their synagogue, or with Birthright. On this trip, they will live among the people with home hospitality and forge close ties with them. I want our kids to love Israel and view it as a regular destination, not simply a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
My son Levi went on our first Teen Mission as a high school freshman. When he returned the next year for the summer with his youth group, he extended his trip by a few weeks to visit with his friends in Eshkol. When he returned, again, last December for a family wedding, again, he made time to visit with his friends. Next month, he is finally going with Birthright (yes, he is still eligible) and again is making plans with his friends.
He’ll probably also climb Masada for the fifth time.
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