I was sitting at the airport, getting ready to leave for our congregational trip to Israel. I was reviewing some notes and the woman sitting next to me noticed what i was doing. She asked if it was Hebrew I was reading? when I responded, Yes,” she asked what I was doing. I explained that I was going to Israel. “Have you been there before?” she asked. “Many times, “I replied.

And then with an incredulous look on her face, she asked, “Why Israel?”
Why Israel?
Why do people go to Israel? Why do people live in Israel? Why do people support Israel?
Recently, I read a wonderful book, edited by Alan Dershowitz. It contained 80 essays answering the question, “Why Israel?” I offer three quotes:
israelrainbow“And so the Jewish state, as the political manifestation of Jewish dreams, is both an imperfect yet bold example of Jewish innovation and an exception. With few natural resources, Israel survives on her brains and the exportable innovations of her people. Caught in the triangle of the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, the narrow land bridge hugging a small coast has also experienced concentrated trading in not just goods but ideas. The burden, the responsibility, and the privilege of being the womb of theology for three great religions is unprecedented. And to host the world headquarters of the peace-loving Bahaiis is not only a historical footnote, but a historic validation.” -Yosef Abromowitz 
“And Shabbat in Jerusalem-there is absolutely nothing anywhere in the Jewish world that compares to the sun setting on the walls of Jerusalem every Friday toward dusk. The hustle-bustle of day slowly seeps away. The colors of the city begin to change. The city walls and buildings move from beige to peach to gold. A collective deep breath is taken just before dark falls, and slowly the smells and tastes of freshly cleaned homes and family Shabbat meals rise throughout the city. For one moment, the anticipation that yes, the world can be redeemed, is shared, if only it could be. . . . maybe this Shabbat!” -Rabbi Naamah Kelman
jerusalemWhenever I am in Israel, for whatever reason, what do I find myself thinking? That the Jewish state is cause for rejoicing and thanksgiving. That Israel has done what it was intended to do-it has restored the Jewish people to national sovereignty after two thousand years, and has returned us to history. That there must be an Israel, because without Israel we are a truncated, incomplete people; and that our love for Israel is eternal, proclaimed in unconditional and unmistakable tones. That Jewish life cannot be sustained without Israel at its core; that the Torah that spells out for us a way of life and a religious destiny also binds us to a land; and that any distancing from Israel for any reason whatsoever is Jewishly unacceptable; it flies in the face of everything we know about Jewish commitment, Jewish thought, Jewish history.” -Rabbi Eric Yoffie
When I return, I will share more about “Why Israel?” For now,though, I invite each who reads this message to consider the question, “Why NOT Israel?” And consider joining the congregation next summer when we return to one of the most amazing spots on our planet…the birthplace and the soul of Judaism…Israel.