Friday, July 1, 2011

TBA Trip Part Shtayim

There's an emptiness the four of us are feeling right now.  It reminds me of the end of summer camp.  You get very close in a very short amount of time, and then you have to say goodbye.  Of course, we will see our TBA friends again in about 7 weeks, but for now, it's tears for the Bloom's, a lot of them, from all four of us.  Here's a 7 minute summary of the trip in pictures set to Rick Recht's "The Hope" and Teapack's version of Hatikva.

The 2nd Half of the Trip
We arrived at Kibbutz Gonen on Sunday night to find that all of our rooms had jacuzzis in them.  The kids had all kinds of fun playing in them.
This is the life!
We spent the next few days exploring the Golan Heights--both its beauty and its strategic value to Israel. 
We met with soldiers, went to several lookouts, tasted wine at the Dalton Winery, and made our own chocolate creations at the De Karina Chocolate Factory.

             Our guide, Yishai, and Doree, l'chaim                         Some of the best chocolate in the world from de Karine
By the way, this artisan chocolate, made by a third generation Argentinian immigrant, was some of the best chocolate I have ever had, and I should know, because I have all too much experience eating chocolate!

Part of our trip up North included Safed, where we had been two weeks prior.  We met with a Kabbalistic artist named Avraham, who originally hailed from Michigan.  He has beautiful, meaningful art, and in describing it, he sounds a lot like Jeff Spicoli.

It was a very "Safed" experience, interesting, beautiful, and a bit off the wall.  We also looked inside two historical synagogues, the Ari Synagogue (named after Yitzchak Luria, who is really the founder of the Lurianic Kabbalah as we know it today), and the Abuhava Synagogue, the decorations of which are based on numbers from 1 to 13.  Most of our group felt they didn't have enough time there.
Future Rabbis Theo and Miriam
We added a couple of things to the itinerary based on people's wishes, including a visit that was very today (the Naot-Teva shoe outlet at the factory) and to Beit Shean, an amazingly excavated ancient Roman city.  This was especially gratifying to see, because I had spent an afternoon in rabbinical school digging there 21 years ago when it was basically just a hole in the ground.  The excavation and restoration going on there today is really phenomenal.

We ended our journey in Tel Aviv with some beach time, some cafe strolling, a clay making project in the dark led by guides who are blind, a walking tour of Old Yafo, and a sort of reenactment of the day Israel declared its independence at the site of the former Independence Hall.
Theodore Herzl's picture at the site where Israel declared independenced in 1948.
Our fantastic, dramatic guide at Independence Hall wanted us to remember three things about Israel.
1) Israel wants peace more than anything else in the world, 2) Israel wants to live, which is why they can't accept every well-intentioned peace proposal exchanging land for an uncertain promise of peace, and 3) Israel wants you to enjoy its land, history, and people.  It really was a very moving part of the trip, and I think our group now better understands and appreciates all three of these things.  Thank you Keshet, our guides Yishai and Merav, and our Counselors, Ilana, Noam, and Tehila.

Overall, amazing.  If you are a TBA member, please ask some of the participants directly how they felt about it.  And start saving money.  In two or three years, im yirtze Hashem, we're going again.


  1. What a great trip Rabbi! We've continued today with the Tel Aviv craft market and shuk then more beach time with the Kleins and can find my trip blog at loss last night for the Giants.

  2. Great stuff, here. Emily and Daniel did the Blind Museum, too, and loved it.

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  4. Thanks for putting this together Rabbi. We too had a wonderful time and felt that familiar sense of loneliness after everyone departed - just like after summer camp. The trip definitely strengthened our connection to Israel. Can't wait to do it again. . .

  5. Traveling isn't the same for Paul without all his buddies. We will long remember the first TBA family trip fondly.

    The question isn't whether you should come to Israel, but when and with whom.

    ps, thank you Greece!