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Day #1 – Anticipation – Israel/Palestine

8 March 2024

As this trip approached a few people genuinely inquired if I was excited about the trip.  Looking forward?  Yes.  Curious?  Yes. Compelled?  Yes.  Excited? – unless I considered the chance to spend time with my brother and his family, to which the response would be a unadaulterated ‘yes!’ – my response is honestly ‘no’.  During my 56+ years on this planet – okay during my 50ish worldly cognizant years – it is the most contentious and precarious time for the state of Israel (and the Jewish community of the United States for that matter) that I have witnessed.  I am not excited.  I anticipate entering into an atmosphere of trauma, anger, fear.  And I question why I feel the need to do so.  Whatever the unique connection that we diaspora Jews have with the state of Israel, it is not my place of residence.  It is not the neighborhood in which I walk my dog.  It is not the community in which I sent my kids to school.  It is not the place where I go to work each day to try and create community and help people find and cultivate sacred spaces in their lives.  And while I don’t live there, I have lived there.  And while I don’t walk my dog there, this place has been an important slice of the pie chart of the identity of the Adam who walks his dog in wherever neighborhood he has lived.  And while I don’t send my kids to school there,  my brother and sister-in-law sent their kids to school there.  And while, it is not the community within which I physically do my work, the idea and the reality of this place is intimately intertwined with that community.

In my heart of hearts I feel that it would be easier if I could say that the past months have affirmed and deepened my connection to this place, its values and the intended manifestion of these values.  The truth is that these past months have only deepened my struggle with what this place means for me as Adam the rabbi, the Jew, the parent and the person.  As much as I struggle to figure it out, it still is an important plank in the platform that is Adam Morris.  And it needs to be examined, evaluated and tended to.

And so when the opportunity for a trip with MEJDI arrived in my inbox, it spoke to me.  I have attempted two separate Micah trips with MEJDI – one that I hoped to begin promoting in March of 2020 (pandemics, anyone?!) and one that was scheduled to travel in October of 2023 (but did not garner enough interest).  Why MEJDI?  It is their mission to travel the world – with a special focus on Israel and Palestine – while holding, honoring and creating opportunities to encounter more than one truth.  They use the term ‘dual narrative’ for their tours.  Simple, they design travel that immerses the participants in more than one story about a place and its culture, politics, sociology-economics, etc.  I know they accomplish this goal because while we did not travel as Micah with them, I did experience many elements of what they include on tours to Israel and Palestine.  These experienced were hard, provocative.  They inspired good questions and unsettling and authentic reflection.

As I anticipate the days ahead, the known ingredients in the recipe for the experience includes my trust in the mission and skill of MEDJI, my own array of feelings and ideas about this magical and maddening place and my intention to listen and be curious with open heartedness and open mindedness.  Then there will be the unknown ingredients of these next few days and paying attention to where and how they will show up.  And while I may not be excited, I look forward to, am curious about and feel deeply compelled to learn into what concoction they will combine and coalesce.

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