Dear Congregants and New Friends:Mal and I would like to extend our heartfelt “thanks” to Rabbi Perlman for the honor of being his “students” on this life-changing tour of Israel. As it was our first visit to “our home”, we were so warmly embraced by everyone on the trip that has culminated in what we feel will be long lasting relationships. The structure of the trip was well thought out and carefully choreographed. The journey began aboard ElAl Flight 16 nonstop from Boston, which enabled us to fully enjoy the service and “feel” the flavor of Israel from the very beginning. The Cabin Crew were the most professional we have ever encountered in our travels to date…another example of Israel’s finest.
When we landed in Tel Aviv…the tears spontaneously streamed down my face, as I anticipated. I just could not believe we were finally there...and I was completely overcome with emotion. We were in Israel where we were the MAJORITY…not the MINORITY. We could freely wear our religious symbols and speak the language…such a contrast to how we live here, though we have our freedom in our communities and in our houses of religion. Here it was global. What an overwhelming feeling. Upon arriving in Tel Aviv proper, our first stop was in Jaffa where the Rabbi led us all in a very moving “Shehechiyanu”, which was a tremendous kick-off to what was to be an incredible journey. We then went to the hotel, right on the Mediterranean Sea…just beautiful. Dinner was an Israeli sampler, which for me was such a big moment, as I had never been a fan of Israeli food. Well…I am hooked on the food now!
The schedule consisted of a myriad of both historic and haymish visits, many of which are must-see, but the trip was balanced with so many personal feel-good stops as well. It was such a tremendous blend of both. The visit to the Bullet Factory was incredibly moving and struck me how clever and resourceful our people are. Singing Hatikvah at Independence Hall was indescribable. We visited a local winery and were so graciously hosted by a family beaming with pride at their product and were just so happy that we stopped by to see them. There were so many reminders of our challenges to attain freedom, as we saw at the Atlit Detention Center. Tsafat was incredible…we saw Bar Mitzvahs, enjoyed the blaring music, shopped, and visited magnificent synagogues with so much history. Our visit to The Golan Heights was but a bitter reminder of how close we were to our enemies, yet our soldiers were right there and I never felt un-safe…not for a moment. We had a real treat when we went on a boat cruise on The Sea of Gallilee where we broke out in Israeli song and dance with a magnificent backdrop of the sea. I was particularly struck on that cruise that we certainly could not do that on a boat on Boston Harbor!! For me, it was so special to visit Afula Haemek Medical Center to deliver the stuffed animals we all brought for the pediatric patients. I only wish we could have given them to the children ourselves. Jerusalem was Jerusalem…everything one would imagine…and more. Upon arrival, we went to Tayelet where The Rabbi rendered another Shehechyanu overlooking the City, which was just overwhelming. How do you possibly describe welcoming Shabbat at The Western Wall…? Too many stops made in Jerusalem to mention…just one overwhelming sight after another. Masada was incredible…as was The Dead Sea. Yad Vashem hit us all like a ton of bricks…what our people have been through…is just too much to bear when you walk through room after room of what it was like. Rivers of tears. Perhaps the most heartwarming visits for me was our visit to Yad Lekashish…Lifeline for the Aged. To see so many elder people doing projects, feeling so valued, and being so proud of their accomplishments was just heartwarmingly wonderful. We reinforced and acknowledged their efforts by making many purchases in the gift shop where only their handmade articles are sold. WOW.
Mal and I felt very blessed to have been able to be part of such a trip. This trip changed our lives. The imprint of the many faces of Israel will forever be etched in our minds and in our hearts. We cultivated many meaningful relationships that we feel will only continue to grow. We were both embraced and included, which meant so much to us. We are planning a return trip as we speak…all thanks to this incredible journey.
Our message to all…please continue to pray for the safety, peace, and prosperity for the State of Israel.
Shabbat Sholom…and Todah Rabah to our new Temple Ner Tamid Family.
Fondly, Meryl and Mal Lemeshow