I just returned from a most remarkable men’s mission in Israel experience hosted by our Federation and co-chaired by Steve Hilton and Jay Stein.
More than anything else, this trip was an important reminder that Judaism is not only defined by religious ritual, but also by the land that G-d promised to Abraham. It was my first trip to Israel at age 26 that gave me a true understanding of what it means to be Jewish. On this, my 41st trip to the Promised Land, I once again took the time to renew my experience of the rituals of Judaism and the land of Israel.
The first time I experienced Israel, the country was 48 years old. The building of the country during those 28 years is staggering. From updating phone systems that were primitive to some of the most modern in the world, to revamping what was initially a socialist economy to one of the most successful models of innovation and capitalism, Israel truly has become the “start-up nation.” But, even with those quantum leaps, Israel never forgets its Jewish values nor its responsibilities to its citizens. Neither does the North American Jewish community.
I continue to be so proud of the programs and services that Federation funds to strengthen Jewish life and help Jews in need in Israel and 70 other countries around the world, work made possible through our generous donors and overseas partners the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Community.
On this, the 70th anniversary year of Israel, I am proud to say Am Yisroel Chai, the nation of Israel lives!
Two of the men, Blaine Light and Ben Ellis, wrote daily blog posts about their adventures during the men’s mission in Israel. To read these blogs, visit azjewishlife.com/men-on-a-mission-to-israel/.
Marty Haberer is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix