This week I'm writing from Israel! I'm traveling with 18 other women from MetroWest as part of the Heart 2 Heart Mission, a national women's mission sponsored by the National Women's Philanthropy of the Jewish Federations of North America. The weather has been cool and rainy, but our enthusiasm hasn't been dampened at all. Although this is my 13th trip to Israel, we are doing and seeing things I've never done or seen before. Yesterday we visited an Israel Defense Force army training base – and we participated in some of their exercises! My favorite part of the day was riding in an armored personnel carrier, attired in army issue flak jacket and helmet. The APC was driven by two young women soldiers who were very proud of their vehicle and their abilities to pilot it over rough terrain. The top of the APC was open and the soldiers encouraged us to stand up and look out. When I decided that this was a better choice than bouncing around inside the APC, I was rewarded with the sight of a rainbow after one of the rainstorms we encountered. Another "only in Israel" moment.
We had dinner with the members of a new movement that is growing across Israel called Young Communities. These are idealistic young people who are committed to making Israeli society stronger. This particular group, called Kehillah Cama, lives in Beersheva; they work as social workers, are graduate students at Beersheva University, teachers and all kinds of helping professions. As a Young Community, they meet weekly to plan projects such as a sustainable garden for the neighborhood in which they live. They have started a small cafe, where we had a delicious dinner. The cafe serves two purposes: girls who are identified as being "at risk" are the servers (and also receive individual counseling) and the profits from the cafe are turned back into the projects of the Kehillah. In addition to raising their own funds, they are also funded by the Jewish Agency for Israel, one of our overseas partners.
It was inspiring to meet the young women soldiers who help defend Israel from outside attack as well as the young pioneers who believe in Israel's future. For more on this exciting mission, go to the mission blog at www.JewishFederations.org. More stories to follow in the weeks ahead!
With love from Israel,