rdspey's blog

June 3 - 6, 2018: Time to Catch-Up

I have been remiss in not updating the blog, and I feel a little guilty.  A lot has happened, though without the formal structure of the mission, I have been filling my time with new experiences and not taking the time to process via this blog.  So to catch up:

June 2, 2018 - Conference and Playing Hooky

Up early and back to the conference.  Shacharitwas as moving as the evening service.  Led by young leaders in the movement, aliyot were given to a variety of people who had been of service to the movement.  While similar to Shabbat worship at a URJ Biennial, there was a distinctive feel and sound unique to Israel Reform movement.  

June 1, 2018 – Shabbat Shalom

In anticipation of the biennial Conference of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), we had a later start than usual.  I took the opportunity to get a little taste of home with a walk along the beach, but the water was cold and the stand-up paddle boards are football shaped. No matter how attached I am to the land, the people, and the state of Israel, I am still an American. Confirming this knowledge heightened my anticipation and appreciation of the Convention.  To participate with this new form of Reform Judaism, developing organically from within Israel was an opp

May 31, 2018 – Contemporary Culture

After spending several days looking at the challenges that Israel faces, today we took a look at contemporary Israeli culture.  As long as that will be our topic, I must confess that one of the major changes that has occurred within Israeli society since my first trip here in the 1984 is the cuisine.  Today, I will compare Israeli restaurants to any in the world.  The only problem is that it is killing my diet.  

May 30, 2018 – Co-Existence

After a couple of intellectually intense and emotionally exhausting days, today began with a well needed and well executed debriefing session, a chance to process our reactions and see that we were not alone in our feelings of confusion, distress, and hope about the issues with which we had been confronted.  And then, onto the bus to begin another day of new experiences. 

May 29, 2018 – Contemporary Challenges within Israel

Today’s program included learning focused on the challenges posed by changing immigration patterns into Israel and a changing role of Judaism in Israel, not the challenge posed by my still missing suitcase.  While the two topics seem to be very different, there is a major connection between the two.

May 28, 2018 – The Settlements

What a day.  So often our preconceptions about a person or a group, based upon an ideology with which they identify, prevent us from recognizing their humanity.  This was the case for me with the Jewish settlers of the contested territories.  

May 27, 2018 - The Start of the Mission

Three flights later and one lost bag, I arrived in Jerusalem.  Again, I was reminded of how much I miss the Israel of my youth: a more provincial, struggling country, where everyone is grateful for having air to breath and people with which to associate.  Stepping off the plane and into a state of the art jetway which leads to a modern world class airport is usually something to be admired.  But I get nostalgic and long for the days when you stepped out of the plane into a blast of heat and brilliance of the Judean sun atop a stairway leading to the tarmac.

From 30,000 Feet

May 26, 2018

As I sit onboard a flight somewhere over the North Atlantic heading to Israel, I have some time to consider the adventure upon which I am embarking.  I feel a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and anxiety.  With current events, especially the increase in violence, I am nervous about what I will witness and experience.  While ARZA would not endanger the participants of this leadership mission, the very definition of terrorism is its unpredictability.  At the same time, what a perfect time to witness history as it unfolds.  

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