By Deb Silverthorn
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) will take members of Dallas’ Jewish community to the homeland through its Israel at 75 Community Mission to Israel, Nov. 7-13. Community members ages 22 and over are invited to participate in the trip of a lifetime.
“I am a believer in the power of experiences. Our Israel at 75 Community Mission will build connective relationships between people, our local organizations and Israel. I look forward to the firsthand experiences and the kindling and rekindling of those connections,” said Igor Alterman, JFGD CEO and president.
Groups are committing from Federation agency partners Congregation Anshai Torah, Chabad of Dallas, Congregation Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El; from the Aaron Family JCC, Jewish Family Service, Legacy Senior Communities; and alumni, parents and faculties of Akiba Yavneh and Ann and Nate Levine academies.
“Whether this is your first trip, or your 10th, this is going to be incredible. This is community,” said JFGD Major Gifts Officer Carly Glikman. She noted that Rabbis Mendel Dubrawsky, Debra Robbins, David Stern and Ari Sunshine have already signed on and other community leaders are expected to join. “We are hoping to fill at least one bus of people connected from each organization, as well as people who are not at all yet connected to our community but who would like to be. It really is going to be very special.
“Going to Israel is life-changing,” said Glikman, “and we look forward to having our participants find, develop and enhance their love and dedication to our land.”
For Susan and Len Cedars, attending JFGD’s 2018 Chai Mission introduced them to those with whom they’d form meaningful friendships and dedication to the Federation. Five years later, Susan is chair of the Federation’s Israel and Overseas Committee and its Partnership 2Gether team.
“We had just moved to Dallas. We made the most impactful relationships with people from the broadest spectrum of our community. This is a chance to understand the climate and social challenges that are real, and how we make a difference. It was those opportunities that brought me to my involvement in the Federation,” she said.
Tourists will share three nights in Jerusalem, two in Tel Aviv and one in the Western Galilee filled with memory-making activities, silent moments and joy. There are stays planned at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem and the Royal Beach Tel Aviv with day trips including to Tzfat and the Dead Sea, an Israeli concert and more.
“This is our third Federation trip together and each time we learn more about what our legacy looks like. Israel needs to continue and to grow,” said Debbi K. Levy, who is co-chairing the mission with her husband Barry Rothschild. “We want to be part of the sustenance, the magic, the tradition and literally, the history in the making of our Jewish people.
“The trip is short enough for parents to be away from home and for anyone to be away from work, but long enough to take it all in,” said Levy. “We want to get there, see it, inhale it all and bring the feeling, the relationships and absolute care for our country, back home.”
The couple, who recently returned from the Federation’s Pacesetter Mission, cannot wait for takeoff. On the heels of the pandemic, they hope people are ready to travel — and to travel to Israel.
“This brings everything we learned in Sunday school to life. We’ll see it, touch it and experience it — from farmlands to high-tech, from the history of thousands of years to our future,” said Rothschild, whose first Federation trip was 22 years ago.
“Israel is where the dream meets reality,” he added.
In addition to group meals and activities including Shabbat and Havdalah at the Kotel and a tour of Western Galilee Medical Center together, guests will have their own time for opportunities to explore Israel’s markets and restaurants.
The mission will break into five tracks: first-timers, food and wine, arts and culture, business and innovation and adventure with the ability for participants to switch tracks day to day. Food and wine guests might take cooking classes or attend wine tastings while the adventure track goes biking and surfing. Business and innovation participants might meet with high-tech, startup and venture capital organizers while the arts and culture tracks take a graffiti tour or meet an Ethiopian artist and first-timers may go to Independence Hall or Rabin Square.
Without the significant subsidies afforded by the Federation, the actual cost of the trip is $6,800. Because of the support of many in the community, the cost-per-participant (double occupancy) is $2,999/under the age of 45, $3,999/first-time to Israel and $4599/over 45 and returning to Israel.
Costs include most meals, five-star hotel accommodations, activities and more. Airfare is additional as is a $1,541 room fee for single travelers. Extending the trip, for those interested, the mission will continue with another three days in Israel or three days in Greece.
“A Federation mission is filled with bucket list opportunities from visits to military installations to the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem,” said Bill Finkelstein, JFGD board chair. “Israel is always in the headlines and to witness whatever that moment is, in person and on the ground, is exquisite.
“For two millennia, Jews have gone to the Wall to pour their hearts out. This experience, and through the eyes and fingerprints of the Federation, is a trip like none other,” said Finkelstein.
For more details, or to register for the Israel at 75 Community Mission, visit
squarespace.com or call 214-615-5222.