Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adults Follow in the Footsteps of Their Kids, Experiencing Israel Firsthand 

While some summer programs in Israel are on hold during the Gaza conflict, others are going full-speed-ahead, with staff continuing to craft plans and itineraries for the fall, making sure that future experiences match successful ones of the past.

The new Legacy program by Mayanot, a Chabad-affiliated organization in Jerusalem, for example, is designed to provide adults with an experience similar to those their children experienced on their Israel trips. The eight-day adventure is open to anyone interested in going to Israel, regardless of any previous travels there by the participant or their family members. While it is geared to the parents of young adults who have recently visited Israel for the first time, it’s open to Jewish adults of all ages and backgrounds.

The program includes extensive touring in Israel, to places like Safed in the north and the Dead Sea in the south; interactive discussions and a behind-the-scenes look at Israeli politics; a camel ride in the desert and a Jeep tour in the Golan; Shabbat in Jerusalem; and everyday Israeli experiences, like buying snacks at an open-air market. Kosher food is served at tour-sponsored activities, and there is no travel on Shabbat. The groups include a rabbi from back home.

Rabbi Pinny Andrusier has led other trips to Israel, but said nothing tops his most recent one with Mayanot Legacy. In June, a group of 15 from his South Florida community took part in the program, which is geared specifically for adults and accompanied by a Chabad rabbi. The Florida group joined 20 other individuals from cities such as New York, Boston and Atlanta.

Andrusier, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Southwest Broward in Cooper City, Fla., and his wife, Gitty, co-director, served as the group’s spiritual leaders.

According to the rabbi, the attendees were all “first-timers” in Israel, with very limited exposure to Jewish history, custom and observance. At first, Andrusier thought they would be wary having a rabbi with them; most of the attendees’ other travels included locales like Italy, Ireland and Costa Rica. So he was impressed by how the group embraced both him and the overall experience—a distinctly Jewish one—“with open arms.”

Cory Browarnik from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said it was “a life-changing trip—insightful, informative, even magical. Through the knowledge of our tour guide and Rabbi Pinny, I felt like I really got to live and breathe Israel, both past and present. I know I will stay forever connected.”


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