Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Journey Begins

       Greetings from Zichron Ya’akov, a sleepy town in the Carmel Mountains. Zichron may not have the nightlife of Tel Aviv or the spiritual intensity of Jerusalem, but it’s a significant destination for our kids. That’s because tomorrow they will meet their pen pals from the Nili School. Y’all may or may not have sensed it before we left but there is serious anticipation ahead of tomorrow’s mifgash (encounter). Mifgash means meeting. But, like many Hebrew words, it has ancient resonances. Our ancestor Jacob had a mifgash with a rock that led to his dreaming of a ladder reaching up to Heaven. When Joseph reconciled with his brothers in the book of Genesis they vayyigfash, which means they “drew near to one another.” Mifgash isn’t just a chance to get together and do some fun activities. It is the type of authentic encounter that carries with it the weight of possibility and the inevitability of authentic engagement. There will be a lot of mifgash on this Israel trip.  

    You may wonder what all there is to report after only 6 hours in Israel (most spent at the airport or on the bus). But for those of us who like to read the tea leaves, these early moments give lots of indications about how things may unfold over the next couple of weeks. Do the kids seem healthy? Yes. Excited? Yes. Appreciative? Yes. Do they seem interested in Israel food? Yes. Are they listening to the tour guides? Yes. Are they being kind and embracing of one another? Yes. These are good signs. They’re signs that the work of the chaperones will be that of helping them mifgash here in Israel rather than simply making sure that they don’t get dehydrated and sunburned (God forbid).

      In order to get to Israel you have to start by going backwards. The plane that travels from JFK to Tel Aviv begins its iconic journey by literally backing out of the gate. So too, our kids seem to have reverted back to first principles. Good manners. A sense of humor. Sharing. Flexibility. Curiosity. They’ve already shown all of these qualities. Knowing that they act on these and other principles naturally and consistently means that all of us are going to sleep tonight looking forward to a great adventure and mifgash in the days to come.

Dining Hall, Eden Village, First Dinner in Israel

     When y’all think about mifgash in your lives, maybe even in the context of an Israel trip or other adventure you’ve taken, what comes to mind? If you feel so moved, post a comment.

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