A few months ago, we blogged about Mitch Cohen and his group, Israel Encounter. They were gearing up for a trip to Israel specifically designed for interfaith couples, with a grant from the Marcus Foundation that allowed the non-Jewish spouse to travel for free. The trip recently wrapped up, and it was a resounding success.
Mitch’s wife, Suzette, who is a Mothers Circle facilitator in Atlanta, sent an email describing the trip, and explained how bringing interfaith families to Israel deepened their connection to both the cultural and religious traditions of Judaism.
While watching the non-Jewish spouses pray at the kotel with tears running down their faces, climbing up Masada saying never will we be forced to give up again, and leaving Yad V’sham silent and trembling, we know the children of these families will be blessed by two parents who have a greater love and understanding of Judaism and Israel. Our students came and learned more in ten days than we could have taught them in a lifetime.
Around the same time Israel Encounter led their trip, another group, Interfaith Connection, which is based out of the JCC in San Francisco, took a group of interfaith couples to Israel. Their experience was written about in a daily blog, and it sounds like they too helped these couples to discover greater meaning in Judaism. Helena McMahon, one of the guides, posted this blog entry from their last day in Israel:
As this trip comes to a close, it feels less like an ending, and more like the start of something exciting, like together we’ve created this community built on shared adventure and friendship, commonality and difference. We’re writing a new chapter in this unfolding story of interfaith life, with the evolving story that is Israel beside us. I’m so lucky to be a part of it, we ALL are, here and back at home in San Francisco.
What both trips did was put Judaism in a global context, showing the diversity of the worldwide Jewish community. By being able to experience Israel first hand, the connection to a shared history grows stronger, and Jewish continuity is a greater possibility. These trips help encourage interfaith couples to increase their engagement in the Jewish community, which in turn will strengthen the entire North American Jewish Community.
Congratulations to both Israel Encounter and Interfaith Connection, and we look forward to hearing about all your future success.
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