In honor of Israel’s 65th birthday, members and friends of the Jewish Federation of NEPA had the pleasure of listening to two speakers who shared their recent experiences visiting the land of Israel.
Jeanne Blom, of Hallstead PA, mesmerized the group of close to 50 with her story as a volunteer on an Israeli army base as part of the Volunteers for Israel/ Sar-el organization which arranges with volunteers from all over the world to give time and energy to relieve the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force from some mundane duties so they can stand in readiness to defend and protect the Jewish State. Jeanne’s engaging and candid style did much to enhance her presentation as did an array of beautiful and telling photos of her trip.
As Jeanne had said to the audience, “I am not Jewish but I love the people and the land and it was a chance of a lifetime to do something for the soldiers of the IDF.” Jeanne’s 17 year old son, Jacob, accompanied her on her trip which was another special component of the experience.
Brad Smertz, of Clarks Summit, then regaled the audience with both story and photos of his first visit to Israel as part of the Scranton JCC’s Teen Israel Experience, co-sponsored by the Federation. His youthful enthusiasm and delightful pictures of beautiful scenery and active teens gave everyone the feeling that all young people should have a chance to visit and volunteer in Israel.
The evening began and ended with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva led by Cantor Vladimir Aronzon
A small collation following the program featured a cake in the shape of the Israeli flag, blue and white cookies and fruit. Guests were able ask questions and talk to our speakers. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our Jewish homeland.