How appropriate that this week's Torah portion, Lech L'cha, recounts how Abram was told by G-d to leave the land of his birth and go to the land chosen for him:
The Eternal said to Abram, "Go forth from your land, your birthplace, your father's house, to the land that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1)
The Eternal now appeared to Abram and said, "I am giving this land to your descendants." (Genesis 12:7)
The Eternal One now said to Abram... "Look around... for all the land that you see I am giving to you and your descendants, forever.... Get up and walk about the land - its length and its breadth, for it is to you that I am giving it." (Genesis 13:14-17)
Over 5,000 years have passed since Abram heard the call to go to "the land," and today we still hear a similar call. It is impossible to describe the multitude of forces that continue to pull us toward Israel. Most are personal and many are inexplicable. Yet the undeniable tug remains.
On Monday, 14 community members and I will leave on a Community Mission to Israel. We are a diverse group: we range in age from 50 to 85; many of us have been to Israel before, but for several of us this will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
Just as Abram did, we will go "about the land - its length and its breadth" - from the Golan Heights to Sderot on the Israel/Gaza border, from the Mediterranean Sea in Tel Aviv to the Jezreel Valley, where we will visit our sister region, Afula-Gilboa. We will spend Shabbat in the Holy City of Jerusalem, climb Masada and swim in the Dead Sea. We will experience the beauty, wonder and magic of this amazing land that was promised to us so many years ago. Together we will learn from leading experts about the complexity of modern-day Israel, the challenges of an uncertain geopolitical climate, and the issues of religious diversity and pluralism in the Jewish state.
A Federation mission is unique and very powerful. Not only do we visit those must-see special places, we also experience firsthand many of the programs supported by our Annual Campaign. It's such a privilege to witness how we've helped to improve the lives of our Israeli brothers and sisters.
I hope that at some time, each of you will join us on a Federation mission. It's a trip you will never forget.
President and CEO
Photo caption: The Hill of Moreh in the Jezreel Valley.