Sharing the Israel Experience

About the time this issue of the Bulletin arrives in your mailbox, I’ll be heading to Israel for a couple of weeks to visit my friends and family.

Last night I watched the movie “In Our Hands,” which tells the story of the Six Day War in 1967 from the perspective of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade, the unit that was the first to go into the Old City on that fateful day. I was reminded again of what a miracle it is that, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, Israel is once again the independent national home for the Jewish people.

Israel is an amazing place. In terms of size and population, it’s about the size of New Jersey; but it packs an incredible amount of history, scenic beauty and controversy into that small space.

I’ve hiked the entire Israel Trail, from the border with Lebanon in the north to the border with Egypt in the south, over 600 miles zigzagging across the country. It has a little bit of everything: agricultural lands, mountains with forests, lakes, towns, cities, beaches, deserts.

Everywhere you go, you come face to face with our people’s history: from the ruins of King David’s Jerusalem, to the site of the Holy Temple, to places where the Maccabees fought. And there are ruins that, in some cases, are still functional structures left by various conquerors, but especially the Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottomans. Important battlefields from the wars in ’48 and ’67 can be found in the middle of residential neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

And then there’s the controversy. We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War – which for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem also marks the 50th anniversary of living under Israeli military rule.

I’d like to share “my” Israel with the Temple Beth-El community. Now’s the time to start planning for a congregational trip to Israel next year. My vision for a trip is one aimed more at adults than at families with children. I want to share a taste of all of the above – some of the scenic beauty, some of the history and some of the controversy. I think it’s good to talk to both settlers and Palestinians to get a personal feeling for the issues that divide us, and the prospects for peace. I’d arrange for Shabbat home hospitality for a Friday night dinner, so people can experience a real Jerusalem Shabbat with Israelis.

In very rough terms, the trip would probably be about 10 days long, in the spring of 2018. Cost is probably in the range of $2500-3000/per person plus airfare, including hotels, meals, etc.

If you might be interested in joining the trip, please contact me at




Rav Barry’s D’Var Torah

Shabbat Balak Sermon – July 23, 2016

Shabbat Matot-Masei Sermon – Aug. 6, 2016

Shabbat Vayashev Sermon – Dec. 24, 2016