As I turn the page in the calendar to 2016, I like to see what lies ahead for me in this secular New Year, and what it is I’m looking forward to experiencing. Just around the corner on February 23-28, I’m excited to travel to Israel for the CCAR convention. While I have led trips to Israel, I’ve not been to a CCAR convention in Israel since 1995. As a participant I’m anticipating the potential opportunities for spiritual growth both professionally and personally.
One part of this Israel convention which I am most looking forward to is interacting with colleagues, especially our Israeli colleagues, and exploring the country together with them. So infrequently do we get a chance to be with so many Israeli Reform rabbis. Side by side we will have the opportunity to speak with them about Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, Settlements, ultra-Orthodox, gender gaps, or environmental issues. We will also travel to different parts of the country to meet with Israelis who will teach us about their first hand experiences in these areas. With our Israeli colleagues we’ll explore the country and learn.
Another part of #CCAR16 which I eagerly await is Shabbat. Unlike other CCAR conventions, we get to share Shabbat together when our convention is in Israel. On Friday night for our Shabbat worship we’ll have the opportunity to travel to one of our Israeli colleague’s congregations and participate. We’ll experience firsthand how Progressive Israelis observe Shabbat. With our Israeli colleagues and their communities, we’ll pray and celebrate Shabbat.
When we journey to Israel, it’s not so much the sites we see, as the people and the mifgashim (encounters) we share. I’m ever reminded of this at the end of Yehuda Amichai’s poem, Tourists.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David’s Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see
that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch
from the Roman period. Just right of his head.” “But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
“You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it,
left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”
The CCAR convention takes place in Israel once every seven years; don’t miss it this year. Come explore, learn, pray, celebrate Shabbat and be open to the potential to grow professionally and personally. Click here to register.
Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler serves Temple Judea Mizpah in Skokie, IL.