By Date

Dear Friends,

I am writing this as our plane begins its descent into Ben Gurion Airport as we start our TSTI in Israel 2022 Mission. For the next two days we will be in Tel Aviv. From there we will head north to the Galilee for and then complete the trip with time in Jerusalem. It promises to be a busy but meaningful trip.

As I sit here I cannot help but reflect on my first trip to Israel. I had just turned 13 and my mother, father, sister and I spent two weeks in August visiting for my Bar Mitzvah. The experience was incredibly powerful, but at the time, I didn’t fully understand its true impact.

There is a verse in the Torah which, only later, did I realize captured the essence of my experience. It states-

And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father for the Philistines had stopped them up… Genesis 26:18)

The wells had been waiting for him to come and reclaim them. When he did, he reconnected with his family legacy as well.

As I reflect back on that first trip to Israel I realize that that was very much the experience I had. My time there introduced me to the wellspring of Jewish history in a way I had never before experienced it, like Isaac who discovered wells that, despite being stopped up, were part of his inheritance. They had been there all along but they didn’t truly belong to him until he took personal ownership over them and returned them to use.

That was what I experienced in August of 1978. The wells of Jewish history had been waiting in the land of Israel for millennia but until I actually was there and dug my hands into the soil, both literally and figuratively, I didn’t feel any sense of personal ownership… or responsibility for it.

All that changed during those two weeks, and as a result but unknown to me until years later, the trajectory of my life changed as well.

That’s what I’m hoping the community members who just traveled to Israel with Raina and me will discover over the next ten days. And I hope you will follow our journey on the TSTI Facebook page.

Happy Chanukah.

Rabbi Daniel Cohen

Israel Mission 2022