By Sharon Wisch-Ray
There is nothing like a trip to Israel to leave one spiritually refreshed (physically tired) and more than a little excited to be Jewish.
Our recent trip to Israel included more than a few Fort Worth connections. On the trip were Felice (nee Antweil) and Harold Leidner. In addition to Felice and Harold, former ourtowners Susan Wisch and Neil Beckerman were on the pre-mission trip to Budapest as well as the Israel trip. (You can read about the Budapest trip on Page 10, by yet another Fort Worth connection Jeff Kitner, whose grandparents were the late Libby and Leon Kitner.) Rounding out the contingent were Harold Gernsbacher, Leigh Gernsbacher and Braden White, Leigh’s boyfriend. It was nice that all of us with Cowtown roots (with the exception of Neil Beckerman) shared Bus 4.
A certain star of the week was Harold Gernsbacher. Harold was his most energetic and animated self when we toured the Western Galilee, Dallas’ partnership region. A member of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Harold serves under the direction of JAFI Chair Natan Sharansky as the international co-chair of Partnership2Gether. According to its website, “The Jewish Agency’s Partnership2Gether peoplehood platform (P2G, previously known as Partnership 2000) has become the paradigm for successfully partnering global Jewish communities directly with Israeli communities — the majority of which are in national priority areas.
“Communities share ideas, strengths, challenges and models of success; and empower one another to generate waves of change. But the impact of these projects go far beyond the community level — each of us has the opportunity to become directly and personally involved.”
Our journey to the Western Galilee began when all 150 mission members boarded a private train that left Tel Aviv at 6 a.m. and arrived at our destination at approximately 8 a.m. At that point, the group split up into their big experiences, exploring the region in a very personal way. Among the options were: heading to the beach at Nahariya and Rosh Hanikra and experiencing some drills of one of the Partnership programs for at-risk youth, a helicopter tour of the borders and security installations, hiking through the hills of the Galilee and experiencing the food and wine of the region. It was a day that culminated with a dinner in 2,000-year-old Crusader’s Hall in Akko followed by entertainment from some of the area’s most gifted children and young adults. In the middle of the day, we stopped at the Western Galilee Hospital. We heard from its general director, Masad Barhoum, M.D., who happens to be the only Arab medical director of an Israeli hospital. He was very grave, as he explained to us that there had been fighting near the border with Lebanon, and two Israeli soldiers had been killed. They were expecting further casualties and his remarks were brief. For many it was the first news they’d heard about the “situation” at the border that was about 15 miles away. In typical tourist-to-Israel fashion, at no time did we feel insecure about our safety.
We were given a tour of the hospital’s underground facility. In the event of an attack the entire hospital, some 500+ beds, can be evacuated to the underground hospital. There are also facilities for the staff members’ children and families, so that in the event of a crisis, everyone is safe and the staff can go about their business of healing ALL people, without worrying about their own family’s safety.
Those of us who knew her were particularly touched by the children’s ER waiting room, which is dedicated to the late Toni Gernsbacher.
In all it was an amazing trip, and I know as those of you prepare for your upcoming trips to Israel this spring and summer you will come back as enthusiastic and … tired as me.
CAS Religious School prospective family day, Feb. 22
Thinking of sending your child to religious school? Ahavath Sholom will hold a prospective family day beginning at 9:45 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 22. Education Director Cantor Shoshana Abrams Kaikov will facilitate a brief informational orientation for families over breakfast followed by classroom visits. You and your child(ren) will be welcome to sit in on and interact with classes.
CAS Religious School strives to offer experiential, nurturing, hands-on, exciting, rich and vibrant Jewish learning that will inspire students for a lifetime. Ahavath Sholom’s faculty of energetic and passionate educators is committed to providing its students with a world-class Jewish education by means of a cutting-edge curriculum that creatively and rigorously equips students for meaningful Jewish journeys.
You can RSVP to Cantor Abrams Kaikov by phone 817-731-4721, ext. 113, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ahavath Sholom is located at 4050 South Hulen in Fort Worth.