Though we couldn’t visit Israel in person to celebrate her 73rd birthday, a number of households throughout Scranton and the Poconos joined a virtual tour of our Jewish homeland, sponsored by the Federation.
On Sunday evening April 11, 2021 and Wednesday evening April 14, 2021 Rick Abrams of JNF and Mordechai Cohen led the breathtaking tour covering the Galilee in the North of Israel all the way to Eilat in the South of Israel and so much in between. The dates chosen for the tour were particularly poignant as they began right after the observance of Yom Hashoah and ended on the eve of Yom Haatzmaut at the close of Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron.
Just read on to see where we visited on each day!
Day One started in Eilat where we “swam” with the dolphins. We saw the solar/mirrored power Light Source in the Negev. We learned about Doron Almog and what prompted him to create Adi Negev, a residential facility for people with disabilities. We visited Israel’s Air Force Museum and learned about a radar truck and famed mobster Meyer Lansky. We traveled to Israel’s multicultural marketplace Sarona Mall in Tel Aviv. We saw the city of Jerusalem as it was through the ages, Herod’s Walls, the Dome of the Rock, the Foundation Stone, and of course, the Kotel- the Western Wall. We zipped up to Tzfat (Safed) and learned a little about the early Kabbalists and their legacy including the artists, illustrators, micrography, and weavers. And ended with observing the Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem.
Day Two opened with attending the wreath laying ceremony on Mt. Herzl on Yom Hazikaron and learning about the history of this day and this place. We enjoyed the Oasis Ein Gedi and its natural beauty. We toured Masada, while learning that fortress’s tragic and inspiring story…including the discovery of date seeds from that time which recently have been planted and sprouted! WE went to Cesaria, the city of Herod, and its archeological Roman aqueducts and beautiful beachfront views. We visited the B’hai Gardens in their glory. We visited the Atlit Detention Camp and learned the sad story of the many illegal immigrants, mostly Holocaust survivors, who were interned there during the British Mandate. Going to Akko prison next, we learned the dramatic story of Dov Gruner who was hanged as a political prisoner by the British and yet, his nephew who carries his name, was one of the liberators of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. Our final day climaxed with joining the live celebrations in Israel for Yom Haatzmaut.
Sprinkled among the sights and history, our excellent tour guide. Mordechai, asked fun trivia questions on Israel’s history and culture. The tour included many video clips to really engender a feeling of being there. We thank our participants Rick Abrams, David and Rhonda Fallk, Dassy Ganz, Dolores Gruber, Sylvia Hahn, Stan and Barbara Kapitansky, Rachael Muller, Mel and Maddy Mogel, and Mark Silverberg.