Tidewater is going to Israel this summer.… Want to come?

February 14, 2014

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Maybe you’ve never been.… Maybe you’ve been a dozen or more times.… The question is: Is this your summer to visit Israel?

The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater will bring a mission to Israel this coming June. Led by co-chairs Jodi Klebanoff, Bonnie and David Brand, the mission will depart Norfolk on June 18 and return on June 28. The itinerary will bring the group from Jerusalem to the north of Israel then to the coast and Tel Aviv. All of the sites, speakers, and interactive experiences have been selected with the goal of touching every one of the senses.

“I’m particularly excited about our chefs’ culinary tour of the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem,” says co-chair Jodi Klebanoff. “I’ve been to Israel many times, but this is something I’ve never done.”

The itinerary features various tracks for participants to ensure that first-timers get to “see it all,” while those returning to Israel have opportunities to experience brand new things (as if they, too, were once again first-timers!).

“We’re going to see and hear very new things about very old places,” says co-chair David Brand. “Think you know Tsfat? Been there? Done that? Nope. It’s a whole new way of seeing things…not only is Tsfat the mystical city and birthplace of Kabala, but today it’s an incubator for high-tech medicine and a center for medical services for the entire Northern region of the country. It’s very exciting stuff!”

The mission will arrive in Israel on Thursday afternoon; spend Shabbat in Jerusalem (with various Shabbat options to meet different levels of observance); then move to the Lower and Upper Galilee and Golan Heights mid-week. The group moves to the coast and Tel Aviv to wind down. All along the way they’ll meet with some of Israel’s most interesting and brilliant “up-and-comers,” as well as a few “tried and true greats!”

The group will greet Shabbat at the Kotel then welcome Tidewater students as well as JAFI Lone Soldiers to a festive Shabbat dinner. They’ll separate Shabbat from the rest of the week with a beautiful Havdalah service overlooking the Old City. Participants will experience a very special tour of Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, after meeting with renowned educator Dr. Rachel Korazim. They’ll walk the ancient cobbled streets of the Old City and visit the high-tech camera room where Jerusalem police watch the city, day and night. Some in the group will opt to renew their vows or celebrate adult Bar/Bat Mitzvahs atop Masada. Others may choose a walking tour of the German Colony and Rehavia neighborhoods of Jerusalem. All will enjoy staying at the brand new Waldorf Astoria hotel in Jerusalem.

In the North, the group will stay in the romantic guest cottages of the Ramot resort. While there, they’ll meet with IDF representatives to get a clearer understanding of the ongoing and emergent threats facing Israel at its vulnerable borders. They’ll also have several chances to take in the natural beauty that hallmarks the Galilee region of Israel – hiking and canoeing through layers and layers of history —stopping along the way for occasional tastings of regional chocolate and wine. While in the North, the group will also see Tidewater’s Federation campaign dollars at work, assisting elderly citizens at a JDCrun Senior Center; and welcoming Israel’s newest citizens at a JAFI absorption center.

As the group heads west toward the Mediterranean Sea, they’ll see even more of Tidewater’s campaign funds at work – assisting students at the magnificent ORT campus in the coastal city of Kiryat Yam; helping to bridge the gap for young IDF soldiers who’ve benefitted from the ATI DIM program; and visiting with children and teens at the Neve Michael Youth Village. The group will explore the ancient ruins of Caesarea before heading on to Tel Aviv— Israel’s “city that never sleeps!”

Tel Aviv will introduce the group to the history of modern Israel through a series of speakers and four individual tracks, including: Gourmet Tel Aviv, Art Tel Aviv, Architecture Tel Aviv, and “…the one that I am really excited about,” says co-chair Bonnie Brand…” the Innovation/Start-Up Nation Israel track, “which will be run in conjunction with Tel Aviv University,” Brand explains. “Not only will we learn how Israel is uniquely positioned to excel in the areas of hi-tech and innovation in industry, social media, and medicine… we’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the students taking hi-tech courses at the university.”

As the trip comes to a close, the group will meet Dahlia Rabin-Pelossof, daughter of the late-Yitzhak Rabin at the Yitzhak Rabin Center—a truly unique experience. They will finish the trip at Independence Hall, with the inspiring words of David Ben-Gurion echoing in their ears (even over the sound of the plane’s engines) as he declares the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.

Cost of the mission is $5,500 per person (from Norfolk). This is based on coach class seating and double occupancy in the hotels. Flight and hotel upgrades, as well as single supplements, are available for additional fees. A “land-only” option is available at $3,700 per person, for those wishing to make their own flight arrangements. The mission fee covers all transportation and hotel accommodations, most meals, guides and admissions. Participants will be asked to make a minimum contribution of $1,200 to the 2015 campaign of the UJFT.

Applications and deposits now being accepted. Space is limited to 40 spots. Deadline for deposits is Monday, March 3, 2014. Are you interested in participating? Do you know someone who might be? Is this YOUR summer to go to Israel? Contact Missions Director Amy Zelenka at 965‑6139 or email azelenka@ujft.org for more information or to save your spot on the tour bus.

by Amy Zelenka, UJFT missions director

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