Our Connection to Israel
Beth El’s relationship with Israel is more personal than political. In recognition of its role as our beloved Jewish homeland, we encourage personal and experiential connections. Two congregational trips, led by senior staff in the 1990’s set this tone.
At Passover, 2005, 44 congregants and their relatives joined Rabbi David Thomas on a family trip to Israel. Grandparents, parents and children, as well as single folks and empty nesters, followed Rabbi Thomas—a certified tour guide when he lived in Israel in the 1980’s—to his favorite ancient and modern sites. We studied Talmud in Tsippori, where the Talmud was written; we shouted “Am Yisrael Chai!” (“The people of Israel lives!”) from the top of Massada, where the last Jewish state met its doom 2000 years ago; we held a participatory Seder in the shadow of the ancient city walls of Jerusalem; we hiked and swam at the lush oasis of Ein Gedi in the South and the verdant nature preserve of Tel Dan in the North, where the waters of the Jordan River roar down from the Syrian heights.
Project HiBur (Haifa-Beth El Connection)
Beth El’s teens have their own special bond with Israel. Project HiBur (Haifa-Beth El Relationship) is a friendship and exchange program between Beth El’s High School and a public school—Hugim—in Haifa, Boston’s sister city. The only exchange program with a congregational school in North America, HiBur brings close to 30 Israeli youth to Beth El every other year at Sukkot/Simchat Torah. In February, 2009, 29 Beth El High School teens traveled to Haifa for a 10 day visit and tour.
Additional Israel programming includes speakers, films and cultural events.