Community mission to Israel set for 2006
By Deborah Moon Seldner
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From self-proclaimed Israel junkies to a couple new to town, a Portland community mission to Israel planned for May 14-24, 2006, has attracted the interest of a diverse group interested in visiting and supporting the Jewish homeland as a community.
"There are two places in the world I'd go anytime—Israel and Disneyland," said Stan Marcus, who is co-chairing the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland mission with his wife Susie, and Henry and Gerel Blauer, Howard Davis and Linda Georges. "There are three things I insist on doing every time I'm in Israel—go to the Wall and Yad Vashem and all the history that goes with (both) and see family."
During a Sept. 14 informational meeting about the May trip, Susie Marcus said that she believes going on a community mission is the best way to see Israel.
"Visiting Israel as a member of a group enriches the experience," she said. "You can share what you notice and what you are thinking about and you have people to help you interpret what you are experiencing."
About a dozen people attended the informational meeting. JFGP Associate Executive Vice President Laurie Rogoway said numerous others have expressed interest in Portland's first significant community mission since 75 Portlanders went on "2001—An Israel Odyssey."
Bill and Sharron Fisherman, who recently moved to Portland, said they went to Israel on a community mission from Houston about five years ago and they think its time to return with a mission from their new home.
JFGP Executive Vice President Charles Schiffman presented an entertaining short history of the region and many of the things that make Israel unique.
"Israel is so tiny, yet it has so much," said Schiffman. "It's big from now until then. ? You have archaeology that goes back to the Stone Age and through every conceivable era of history."
"Whether we believe it or not, what happens in the Bible is important because people have reacted as if it was true," said Schiffman, noting that until the last 150 years or so, Christians, Jews and Muslims accepted the Bible as the literal truth.
Yet side-by-side with ancient sites is an ultramodern society, said Schiffman noting that the cell phone was developed in Israel, cutting-edge medical breakthroughs come out of Israel and the largest pharmaceutical research company in the world is Israeli.
"Israel is as up-to-date and as modern as tomorrow," he said. "The ancient and forward-looking exist in the same country."
Both sides of the tiny country, about one-twelfth the size of Oregon, are explored during Federation trips to Israel.
"We cram a lot into the time," Schiffman said.
A proposed itinerary includes visits to Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps; Caesarea, one of the Israel's most important cities during the Roman Empire; Safed, center of Jewish mysticism for centuries and home of a contemporary artists colony; Kibbutz Kfar Blum, a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee; the strategically important Golan Heights; the Dead Sea; and four days, including Shabbat, in Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem, participants will experience the sights, smells and tastes of Jerusalem preparing for Shabbat, visit the Western Wall and the underground continuation of the Western Wall along the Temple Mount, tour the renovated Yad Vashem complex, and explore the political side of the city.
Cost of the trip is estimated at $3,600 per person, double occupancy. An optional extension to Istanbul, Turkey is also planned.
For more details, contact Rogoway at 503-245-6473 or email@example.com; or Susie Marcus at 503-292-9452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.