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Dear Sinai Friends...

I'm writing these words looking out on a sunny Mediterranean Sea from the Dan Hotel on the Tel Aviv Beach.  
It's 8:15 am.  It's the start of our first full touring day in Israel.  The spirit should be as good as it gets as the group of 130 people from the Pioneer Valley begins our great visit to Israel @65. I'm reminded of the poem by the medieval Spanish Jew, Yehudah Ha Levi.  Looking out towards Israel, he wrote..."My heart is in the East while I am in the distance West."  

How sadly ironic that I plan to speak to those on my bus this morning by inverting Ha Levi's words.  After what has happened in Boston, all of us over here need to say...."Our hearts are in the America...even though we ourselves are here in Zion."

At this sad time, I send you greetings and hopes for peace.

From Israel on its birthday day, I send you my best wishes.
All of us here are glued to the news.

We are "home" in Israel even though back "home" in America there is so much pain.
In the full sense off the word, SHALOM.


Dear Sinai Friends -

April 18...Thursday evening in Jerusalem...10 p.m.

I have been asked several times on this current Israel trip how many times I have visited Israel. So I have done a quick calculation and I think this trip must be somewhere close to my 15th visit.  However sitting in my hotel room after our first full day in Jerusalem, I can honestly say it hasn't mattered to me that this visit is a "return" visit.  Somehow Israel grabs me every time I am here.

It's got to do with the sites. They are beautiful and rugged and unlike anything else I know.

It's got to do with the meaning of the sites.  What can be seen here is older and more personally related to me the Jew than sites anywhere else in the world.

In fact, I'm just thinking that although I can go to Chicago, Paris or Maui and have fun, it really is different here.  
It IS fun but it is also inspiring and moving.

Here I meet a concierge who came to Israel because the day the Six Day War began in 1967, his family was thrown out of Libya by the angry Arab government. Israel gave him his life.

Or I can meet a British woman, age 23, who came here to live after High School and feels more alive than ever before in her experience. She is making a life out of military service and bursts with pride at being able to defend and secure the homeland of her people.

Can I tell you what has made today and the preceding days in Israel so important?  Honestly, it's the fact that I have been moved to tears by someone or some event every day.

Israel is real.

Israel isn't all there is to being a Jew, but it's crucial. It's foundational.

We’ll talk again soon!


Laila tov...good night.   
Rabbi Shapiro



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