Just an hour after landing at Ben-Gurion airport for the 16th annual MJE EdidinHeritage trip to Israel, our group of 45 participants enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner (go figure) and heard from an IDF soldier in the reserves about his experiences in the army. When asked “What is the most important thing American Jews can do for Israel?”, he answered “Have our back, be with us.” As American Jews living so far away from the mother ship, it is imperative that we keep Israel in the forefront of our minds and have her back. But when the headlines about attacks, elections, and the looming existential threat of Iran are all we interact with, this duty becomes heavy and at times daunting. It is equally as crucial that we connect with the heart of Israel – the people, the food, the land, the history, the culture – so that we remember why we care and why we fight the good fight. While in Israel, I will be blogging daily to do just this – to bring you Israel beyond the headlines. Each day, we will highlight activities, places, people and of course, food. We hope that as you read you get the urge to come visit yourself, and that it revitalizes your moral support abroad. PARTICIPANT OF THE DAY
Name: Jason Parnes
Profession: CPA, assurance
# trips to Israel (including this): 2
Jewish Background/ affiliation: Secular/ Reform
In his words…
How do you get on this trip?
I received an email from MJE regarding a trip to Israel at a subsidized rate. I wanted to go back since Birthright so it seemed like the perfect opportunity! It all happened so quickly – I seriously can’t believe I’m here, it’s pretty surreal.
What are your brief reflections on the day (or the trip overall)?
It’s incredible! It is only the first day and everyone treats each other like an old friend.
Fun fact about yourself…
This season will mark my 11th year as fantasy football commissioner with the same group of guys.
REFLECTION OF THE DAY – “On the Land and On the Food”
Back to that amazing Italian dinner. As always, we finished the meal with Bircat Hamazon- the Grace After Meals. As I shared with the group, the second blessing of the Bircat Hamazon, “on the land and on the food” refers to the land of Israel. This means we recognize the centrality of Israel after every meal. Israel is so central to our being, so basic to our continued existence, that it’s combined with our thanks for our most basic need, for food. One of the goals of our trip, besides inspiring our group as to the beauty and relevance of Israel in our lives, is to demonstrate the absolute necessity of Israel to the Jewish people. No different from food, we simply cannot be without Israel. This is a message we hope will be heard by all peace loving people as Israel continues to face external threats. Just as we all require nourishment to lead healthy lives, the Jewish people need Israel and we must therefore ensure she survives and thrives.