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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Gerber

Mission to Israel

Updated: Mar 21

8:30am: Arrive in Tel Aviv

It is always a wonderful feeling to arrive home in Israel. While much of Ben Gurion Airport felt familiar, there are two things that stood out to me.

First, it was pretty empty. I'm used to seeing hordes of birthright students, tourists, and spending at least an hour getting through customs. The scarcity of tourists is most certainly hurting the Israelis. This will be a theme throughout this post.

Second, the walkway to the baggage claim was lined with posters of the hostages. The entire state of Israel is lined with posters of the hostages. They are at the forefront of everyone's mind.

10:00am: Olive Oil, Wine, and F-15s

Congregation Gates of Prayer is going to be partnering with an organization called My Tree in Israel. The idea behind the program is that we get the opportunity to adopt a tree or vine and when the oil or wine is ready, they will ship us our own custom labeled bottles. It is a way to build our connection with Israel and support the farmers who work the land.

The wine is fantastic, and the farmers are amazing. Many are second or third generation farmers in Israel, whose families date back to the first settlers of the land. There is a bit of a shortage of olive oil right now, partially because of the weather, but mostly because many of the farmers are currently serving in the IDF.

The still beauty of the vineyards and orchards were occasionally interrupted by two sounds. The first (and loudest) were the cows. But we were also close to an airbase, so we could hear F-15s flying their missions. It was unclear if they were headed north to Lebanon or south to Gaza.

4pm: Jerusalem

Jerusalem, as old as it is, never gets old. The streets are alive with history. The walls tell countless stories.

Here, I had the honor to complete a conversion of a student I have been working with and then bring her to the Western Wall.

The path to the Western Wall runs through the Arab shuk, which typically bustles with vendors selling tchotchkies of all shapes and sizes. Often there is fresh baked bread at the entrance and spices throughout. Not today though.

I found a single open store and asked if it was quiet because it was Ramadan. The shop owner replied that it had been this quiet since the war started.

Though haggling for overpriced souvenirs is a tradition here, I felt compelled to overpay. Every store, from the Kippah Man to Gabrieli is struggling for business.

Buy Israeli if you can. This is another reason why I'm excited to introduce the partnership with My Tree In Israel. Our fellow Jews need the support.

8pm: Blogging to Stay Awake

I'm exhausted, so if any of the above sentences didn't make sense, I apologize. But I'm here for only a short time and we have a full schedule. I'll be posting every day this week while I am on this trip, so if you have any questions, feel free to comment. I hope to share as much information as I can!

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