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Blog by Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields  – Rebbe El on Travel and Israel


Parashat Yitro – Ten Thoughts about travelling to Israel


1- Each time one visits Israel is a Shehecheyanu moment – a time to say a prayer for a new experience. One can never visit Israel too often.  There is always something new and exciting to see, learn and discover in Israel


2 – Be open to new ideas and opinions.  Israel is full of people with opinions. It is always good to keep an open mind, and listen, and learn. Agree to disagree, respectfully.


3 – Listen to your tour guide. There are hidden gems in everything the tour guide says… so don’t think about your questions, without listening first, because chances are the tour guide might be answering your question, while you thinking about your questions.


4 – Bring a small notebook to carry with you, to write down your thoughts about your experiences. As one of my mentors, Rabbi / Cantor Morton Leifman, of blessed memory, said to the Rabbinical and Cantorial School students at an Opening Breakfast one year, Soak it up damn it!


5 – Even if you do not observe Shabbat ordinarily, do something for Shabbat when in Israel.  Listen for the Shabbat siren on Friday afternoon (if you are in Jerusalem), and then walk outside, and see people walking to Services, and wish them a Shabbat Shalom.  Attend a Shabbat service, or a few, even for a few minutes, walk in and out of different synagogues, to experience the different atmospheres.


6 – Do not forget to wear a hat every day. Keep the sun off your head. It is strong !


7 – Do not forget to bring water with you – and drink it. As my daughter learned at Camp Ramah in the Rockies, hydrate or dydrate!


8 – Do not forget to bargain in the markets.  The merchants expect you to argue down the price. You will see where you can bargain, and when maybe it is not such a good idea.


9 – Do not forget to buy something memorable for yourself.  We often buy for other people, come back and forget to get something for ourselves. We need to get something for ourselves on our trip to Israel, so when we look at it, we remember the fond memories of our trip to Israel.


10 – Do not forget to share your memories, experiences, pictures, and stories with everyone you know when you come back, so they all want to join you on your next ITC trip !!