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Beshalach 5775 – Beginning to Reflect on Israel

It was my intention to blog while we travelled in Israel … I had done it before when I co-chaperoned the Student Interfaith Peace Project trip in the summer of 2008. Perhaps I had more energy then or I underestimated the energy needed in leading a trip, but I found myself at the end of each day physically and emotionally spent — with the idea of writing as difficult as contemplating running 10 miles, too.

A few have asked for my impressions and reflections from the trip and I have been endeavoring to place those in a sharable construct … and even though I am past my jet lag and have the time and energy to write – the sharable construct has not yet been constructed. Our group will reconvene soon and discuss the ways in which we all might share what we saw, felt, thought and experienced. I trust there will be some in person and some virtual opportunities for us to share with our community what we did.

Perhaps my writer’s block – if I can call it that – is this sense and need to honor the group-ness of this experience. In all of my travels to Israel, this trip was the first time that I have led a group from my community. I have formed community while in Israel, but I have never traveled with, shared and guided the experience of Israel with a previous existing community. The sense of Micah – Park-Hill-residing, Colorado-mountain-loving – being in Israel became a prominent element of the experience of the trip for me. I found myself eager and anxious about the prospect of introducing Micah to Israel and Israel to Micah. I watched and wondered about the interaction and exchange of these two distinctive and significant entities. I embodied the role of of mediator and counselor as I facilitated this increasingly reverberating encounter between the two.

And so my first reflections on our trip begin with this observation of the sense of ‘us’ being ‘there’. This thing we call ‘community’ is the combination and permutation of so many varied kinds of relationships. It is an unruly mess to categorize and quantify (and organize, too!). No matter how we understand it and try to contain or cultivate it, I can say with confidence that ‘community’ is something that transcends time and place – because that is exactly what we did.  And the the way in which we did so – to encounter Israel together – enhanced not only the trip we took, but provocatively impacts the way I understand the community to which we return.

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