SAN DIEGO—A few days after we returned from Israel I stopped at Jamba Juice for lunch. A lot had changed since I left! In addition to smoothies, Jamba Juice is now selling wraps and sandwiches. I could not help but smile when I looked in the display case at the ingredients for their "Couscous and Produce Salad." The first ingredient was "Israeli Coucous."
I thought about sthe threatened boycott of Trader Joes I shared with you before I left. An anti-Israel group had threatened to pull Israeli products off Trader Joes shelves if they did not stop selling products made in Israel. If this group was true to its ideals it would also boycott Home Depot, Costco, Vons, Ralphs, and now Jamba Juice, all of whom carry Israeli products.
They would have to quit using their computers because Intel does a lot of product development and engineering in Israel. They would also have to stop using instant messenger, cell phones, eating Galia melons, etc., and the list goes on and on. Israel has made innumerable contributions to the world's technology and economy in recent years. Her enemies should consider what they would need to live without if Israel did not exist.
It is hard to believe how much we crammed into our last few days in Israel. Last Friday we woke up early to travel to Masada to see the ruins of Herod's palace and learn the stories of the Jewish zealots' heroic stand off against the Roman Legion. When a Roman victory became clear, the zealots took their own lives rather than fall into the hands of their enemies.
When I was a college student the only way to ascend Masada was by foot along the "snake path." Now there is an ultra modern cable car that takes visitors to the top, but some of our more intrepid families decided to walk down instead.
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The next stop was the Dead Sea. We floated in the mineral-filled waters and almost everyone (except yours truly) covered their body in the Dead Sea's therapeutic mud before rinsing off and dipping in the sulphur pool.
After returning to our hotel we went to the Kotel plaza with hundreds of others to welcome Shabbat and held our own Kabbalat Shabbat service before sharing a festive Shabbat Dinner.
The next morning many of us went to local synagogues before Shabbat lunch at the Conservative Movement's Fuchsberg Center. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking, pool side, or sleeping!
Before we left for Israel we had asked all of our travelers to bring small gifts and toiletries to be distributed to needy families, soldiers, and victims of terror. This collection and distribution is one of the mitzvah projects sponsored by the Fuchsberg Center. On Sunday we dropped off our contributions and took a short tour of the center and the Conservative Yeshiva with an old friend, Rabbi Ed Romm.
We stopped at the Menorah in front of Knesset building for a group photo before a somber visit to Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl, where we paid our respects at the grave of Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who lost his life during Israel's daring rescue at Entebbe airport on July 4, 1976.
That evening we shared many happy memories during our Farewell Dinner. We were exhausted but were revived thinking about all of the things we had experienced together. Everyone said that they can't wait for their next trip to our Jewish Homeland.