What was I doing fifty years ago today? I don’t know exactly but I was in Israel. I was spending the summer of 1970 on USY United Synagogue Youth, Israel Pilgrimage. And what an exceptional trip this was.
The year before I had crisscrossed the United States on USY on Wheels and now one year later, I was spending the summer in Israel. I came from a strong Zionist background. My dad was the president of the local chapter of the Zionist Organization of America. My Uncle Lou had moved to Israel in 1960 and was living there with his family. I was the first one from the family to visit
Israel in 1970 was not like it is today. In many ways it was still very primitive. There was barely any TV. News was heard pretty much over the radio. And there were enemies every where. The Six day War of June 1967 was only three years in the past and Jerusalem was a United city for just the past few years. The YomKippur War of September October 1973 was still three years away. So it was fairly calm that summer of 1970.
We were very free to travel all over the country. We went as far north as the Golan Heights and as far south as Eilat. We visited the Negev and Sde Boker. We spent a number of weeks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We were up in the Galali and stayed in Safed. We spent time in Haifa and along the Mediterranean coast.
And we lived a fairly religious existence. We held services three times a day. We observed the sabbath on Saturday and spent the day in the synagogue. We kept kosher. All the religious training I really ever learned in my life was during this trip and the trip across the U S. And I am thankful until this day for the experience of learning all the prayers and all the daily rituals. I don’t practice them today as I did back then, but I am so grateful for having been exposed to them and taught them.
I have been back to Israel at least four times since my original trip. In fact in November of 1981 Sharon and I honeymooned in Israel and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather have spent my honeymoon.
My most recent visit was in 2014. I escorted a group there. And I was scheduled to go this past September but by open heart surgery cancelled those plans. It is my hope to get there once again as soon as it is safe to travel and the pandemic is over.