Experiencing Israel Through Israeli’s Eyes

By Michelle Cohen, Short Hills

Being part of the Greater MetroWest commUNITY Mission to Israel was eye opening and inspirational for me in a myriad of ways.

First of all, there was an extraordinary sense of community to be in Israel surrounded by so many fellow Greater MetroWest friends and acquaintances and, specifically, to be there with Congregation B’nai Jeshurun and Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, and Rabbi Karen Perolman. It was a powerful message to see the commitment and engagement of our synagogue and local community in our Homeland.

The most significant takeaway for me was how important it is for all of us, collectively, as Jews, to bear responsibility for supporting our Jewish brethren in Israel and around the world. The day we spent in Arad, one of Federation’s partnership cities in the Negev, was truly one of the highlights of the trip for me. It allowed me to experience Israel from the perspective of its citizens and to hear about the day-to-day challenges that those in our sister community face.

Also, it was heart-warming to witness first-hand the appreciation that the members of the Arad community have towards us and to see the sparkle in the eyes of the kids who greeted us. These kids were part of Youth Futures, a program the Federation supports through the Jewish Agency for Israel that mentors teens in 7th through 9th grade who are identified as being at-risk. Its purpose is to help them overcome family and/or social challenges in their lives. Seeing the teens’ expressions of gratitude and working on an art project together, even though we could hardly communicate with them in the same language, was a beautiful example of the living bridges that Federation is establishing between Greater MetroWest and Israel.