Welcome Home and Shabbat Shalom

My Friends,
Today marks two weeks since we gathered to bring in Shabbat in Jerusalem. The joyful vision of you all, dressed in white, sitting together on the steps of the amphitheater while our Rabbis and musicians led us in tefilah (prayer) is one that will long stay with me. Like you, I am still processing all that we saw and experienced on the CommUNITY, as we gathered with Jews from around the world for Kabbalat Shabbat, we knew the tunes, the prayers, and experienced the connection of Jewish peoplehood in a place where just two years ago, this experience  would have been nearly impossible. As Rabbi Ridberg wisely counseled, I am finding it hard to convey the richness of the experience we all shared when people ask, “how was the trip?”
Our CommUNITY Trip marks what we hope will be the first Federation trip of many over the coming years. We want to expand our connections to Jewish community around the world, in Israel and within the United States, and our ties to one another. We want to create opportunities for people at all ages and stages of life to continue to learn and build community together through travel, with smaller, more focused missions, as well as larger trips every 5 years or so. Your important feedback on our Community Trip will help us to ensure every Federation travel experience is both meaningful and fun. Please fill out our feedback survey by June 2nd.

Take the Survey

Many of you have asked for access to our trip photographer’s photos, the trip video, and the nearly 2000 (!!!) photos you all shared on Whova, as well as a way to upload your own trip photos both for Israel and the UAE so others can enjoy them.  In addition, we are uploading many of the presentations and materials from some of the electives on our trip. You can find all of this in our CommUNITY trip Google Drive, here.

Now that we are back, we want to keep this sense of unity going. Join us this Sunday at the House of Israel in Balboa Park (12PM – 4PM) for Celebrate Israel. This- event is hosted by the House of Israel, Hillel San Diego, StandWithUs, and our very own Shinshinim. Also, SAVE THE DATE – CommUNITY Trip Reunion at Jewish Community Day @ the Padres. Use this link to purchase your tickets! We will continue to share events and programs of interest with you; we want to keep these connections strong. 

I shared with you at our amazing opening event that my guiding word for this trip was gratitude, and that has only increased since coming back. Thank you for your remarkable generosity that is already making an impact in Sha’ar HaNegev and will continue to strengthen our ties to Israel. For your openness and passion. For your questions. For trusting us to lead this trip and taking the leap. I also want to wish all of you who came home feeling less than 100% a speedy refuah shlemah. 

Shabbat Shalom to you all. May you bring the joy and meaning we felt celebrating Shabbat in Jerusalem into your week, and the weeks to come. 

Heidi Gantwerk
President & Chief Executive Officer


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