In the past two weeks, there have been further developments in the planning process for our Temple Beth Torah trip to Israel. We now have a departure date: Tuesday, June 16, 2015. I have chosen this date for a number of reasons. Firstly, the weather in Israel is more likely to be temperate in June than it is in July. Come July, it is hot in Israel. It ranges from somewhat hot at the higher elevation of Jerusalem to really hot everywhere else. So traveling when there’s a greater likelihood of warm weather in June is advantageous.
Secondly, it would not be a good idea for us to depart in early June because most public schools are still in session. I do not want to exclude any family from traveling with us because their kids are not yet on vacation. June 16 is pretty ideal since not only public schools but also Cal State Colleges and University of California campuses will have concluded their academic instruction.
The third reason why I chose June 16 is that I am convinced that departing on a Tuesday works incredibly well for the itinerary I have planned. Many other tour groups customarily leave on a Sunday. They usually spend the first part of the trip in Tel Aviv, then travel up the coast to Haifa. After a period of time in the north of Israel, the tour concludes in Jerusalem.
I have the opposite approach to our itinerary. I consider Jerusalem the heart of the Jewish people. Most tours take many days before arriving at the center of Jewish faith and history. In our Temple Beth Torah itinerary, after our arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport, we will plant trees in the soil of our ancient homeland and then proceed to Jerusalem. At the Haas Promenade, which offers a sweeping vista of the city, we will offer our prayer of Shecheyanu, thanking God for our safe arrival. I cannot think of a more dramatic and meaningful way to begin our first day in the holy land.
Here is one other benefit for departing on Tuesday, June 16. Unlike other trips that typically begin on a Sunday, by our leaving on a Tuesday we will guarantee that during our 13 day trip we will enjoy not one but two Shabboses in Israel. The first will be in Jerusalem and the second in Tel Aviv. Shabbat in Israel is a delight. We will celebrate Shabbat evening together. Shabbat during the day, participants in our trip can choose from a wide variety of worship, cultural, educational, and social opportunities. I think there is real benefit for enabling the members of our Temple Beth Torah Israel trip to seek out on their own whatever pleases their hearts and minds.
A lot of planning has gone into our Temple Beth Torah trip for June 2015. To learn more about every facet of the journey, including itinerary, flights, hotels, and costs, I hope you will come to our information meeting on November 18, 7:30pm in the Social Hall. November 18 is a Tuesday night. Hmm. Tuesday seems to be an auspicious day for our kick-off event. After all, we will be leaving for Israel exactly 30 weeks later!