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On El Al Flight 6: Hopes and Dreams: Wednesday Early Morning.

We are on the plane, about 45 minutes outside of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv/Yafo. Most of us caught but a few hours of sleep: some were excited, some overtired, some couldn’t find a place to put our legs as we were sardined into tiny seats. We just began flying over the Mediterranean Sea. We will be in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, before we know it. In preparation for this shehecheyanu moment, I asked our Or Ami tour participants to reflect upon two questions: Why they are taking this trip to Israel and what do they hope to experience? The Goldin Family: We had heard about the trip when Or Ami was going in August 06 originally but had not planned to go. When the trip as rescheduled to December 06, it was in an instant I decided we were going as family! My husband Paul had been to Israel 34 years ago but neither myself or my son Ryan had ever been. I thought this would be an opportunity of a lifetime for us to experience Israel as not only a family but with Rabbi Paul and others from Or Ami. In 2009 when Ryan becomes a Bar Mitzvah I hope this trip and memories of Israel will have a long lasting impact that will add some meaning to why he is up on the bimah becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Toby and Burt Stonefield: Toby and I have never been to Israel although it has been a dream of ours. As a Jew, I wanted the feeling of going to the place where our forefathers lived and thrived for over 5000 years. I have always felt a need to experience it. The trip with our friends and fellow congregants gave this opportunity we had hoped for. Teen Andrew Gurewitz: I had never been to Israel before. I want to go to learn about the rich cultural history of our people. I really also wanted come to finish what I started. I wanted to become a Bar Mitzvah in Israel but that never happened because of the hostilities. Murray November: I came on this trip to revisit some of the roots and remember forefathers and to feel the inner soul of living in a Jewish Homeland. Most importantly, coming here to experience the spiritual passing on of tradition and religious life from me (the past) onto the grandchildren. It is a multigenerational experience. While growing up, I remember collecting money in the little blue tzedakah box for the Jewish National Fund and I wanted to check on how our collective investment was doing. Steve Keleman: I am traveling with my wife and our daughter and son-in-law to return to Israel. Our reasons for this trip are to get to know other Congregation Or Ami members better and to see Israel from a religious and historical perspective. We enjoyed and learned so much from our last trip nine years ago that we wanted to return for more. It is also a great time to give to Israel and show our support. Jim Mertzel: Marianne and I decided that there was no better way to experience Israel for the first time, than to share it with our daughter, Ellen, her husband Mark, and their sons Greg, Matt and Ben. The timing is appropriate as Matt and Greg will be called to the Torah as B’nai Mitzvah next month. We thought that for them to experience Israel at this time would reinforce the traditions, the language, and the beauty that our religion has meant to us. It is our hope that this experience will be one that they will remember through the years and be a great lead into the entire Bar Mitzvah experience. Noah Kipnes: I am excited about taking this trip to Israel because I have heard of Israel and all of its wonderful features. I hope to swim in the Dead Sea, pray at the Western Wall, and see all of the famous places in Israel. I look forward to seeing David ben Gurion’s grave and home. Daniel Kipnes: I am excited because I get to see the Western Wall. Israel is our homeland. This will be the furthest I will be away from home.

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