Not Here, Not There, But Everywhere

We’re almost at the end of the Yoms – Yom HaShoa, Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut, Yom Yerushalayim. They create all kinds of pictures in my head and emotions in my heart. The overarching feeling I’ve had this year is of being in two places – New Jersey and Israel – and yet in neither place.

I may feel this way this year because I’ve been spending time with our mishlachat, our delegation of young Israelis, for whom it is so difficult to be away from Israel where these holidays are observed across the country. Instead, they are in the United States, where many Americans don’t even pay attention to the real meaning of our own Memorial Day or our Independence Day. To see the shlichim work so hard in our synagogues, day schools, JCCs, and the Y to bring these days to life, while struggling with their own feelings, is awe-inspiring.

Maybe I feel this way because I miss Israel. I was in Israel for ten days in April, so you would think that it might be a little while before I had the urge to go back. That would be wrong. I’m always ready to go back. If you’ve never been to Israel for Yom HaZikaron, with its siren and its solemnity, where every person feels the pain of loss, and the immediate transition to Yom HaAtzmaut, you are missing a huge insight into the Israeli psyche. It’s not that Israelis immediately replace the emotion of sadness with that of celebration (and love of a good mangal, or barbecue); it’s that the two sets of emotions always exist side by side, and despite one another.

And yet I’m lucky, even though it has been uncomfortable to feel somewhat out of place. I’m lucky because I have been to Israel in this season, and in so many others. I want to be able to share Israel with all of you, to see this lively, challenging, ever-changing and timeless place, and to sit with Israelis, creating the lasting connections that are so important for all of us. How lucky we are to have an Israel to come home to!

Here’s the thing I want to share with you – you can be lucky, too. We have two terrific local Federation missions going to Israel this summer, the Young Women’s Mission and the Men’s Mission. They are booking up as we speak, but there is still space available on both missions, sign up for Young Women’s here  and/or Men’s here. And, if you are interested in improving your skills as a fundraiser check out JFNA’s Campaigners’ Mission 2016, or want to be a part of the National Young Leadership Summer Mission to Israel, these are opportunities for you too. Then you can miss Israel along with me once you get home!

The Fried Saginaw Mission Endowment Fund is available to help subsidize the costs for your first Greater MetroWest mission. Contact our Missions Director, Heidi Kuperman, at or (973) 929-3046 for more information about any of these missions and to see if you qualify for a subsidy. To make a gift to the Mission Endowment Fund, contact the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ at or call Eileen Heltzer at (973) 929-3039.


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