One of my favorite activities this month has been talking about CJP’s 2012 YLD Israel Mission trip. Now it’s time for everyone to read about it.

Only a few weeks after Madonna’s concert in Tel Aviv, and not too long before political issues in the Knesset arose, there was another major event in Israel that did not get the same front-page attention from Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.  If the newspapers were covering the Boston bus between July 1 and July 10, the headlines would have read something like, “Boston Occupies the Dance Floor at Arca,” “Bar Mitzvah Boys Celebrate in Jerusalem,” “So Kosher Sexy it Hurts,” “!זה מה שהיא אמרה,” or “Another great hotel breakfast to enjoy.” Even with so much to cover, no journalist would have been able to keep up with the excitement that followed Boston—especially if they had to chase down Ami and his impeccable driving skills.

I know that, even in this not-too-far-from-reality scenario of daily articles published across the country, there are still many stories that need to be shared, documented, and remembered now that we are all back to our normal lives at home. Writing this, I know, will be a way for me to personally attach myself back to this Boston bus for as long as I can—I mean this IS the internet we are talking about, so I am fairly confident my statement will hold true. However, if I were to speak for others, and attempt to capture what this trip meant to each of us, from one to 39—or Echad to Shloshim V’Taysha—I know we would all say that the experience of the 2012 Israel Mission was beyond all expectations.

If this blog post ended just before this sentence began, most people—well, anyone who has ever enjoyed travelling to Israel—would have some basic understanding of what is gained from a trip to Israel. Therefore, to not leave things watered down, I feel an obligation to share, in my own words, just some of the many highlights that came out of this trip. All that we felt, and all that happened, could not have been created anywhere else but Israel. It’s the people, the weather, the beaches, the water, the food, the art, and the history that were the ingredients that went into what this experience was. And we got it all…

If the same recap was shared just once to the whole group, instead of multiple times to many people, it would not have been the same exciting story that it became.

When the time was most needed, and a best friend was there, getting through the overwhelming emotional feeling of being at the Western Wall for family was just a little easier.

A story that was started nearly 2,000 years ago, on a mountain top, in the middle of the desert, was continued thanks to cell phone service and a call back home.

No one had to declare a winner when a summer camp dance-off broke out between the youngest kid, and the youngest-at-heart kid—even if the latter is pushing 40 years.

Siblings can choose to keep many things from their family; but when travelling together, in Israel, it was more important to be thinking of family and strengthening the bond between each other.

Coming to an understanding of one owns Jewish identity, and being proud of this identity even if it was all forgotten after the age of 13, can be displayed beautifully on a bracelet.

No matter what had to give, or give out, the loudest sound from Masada was going to come after the last one made it to the top.

Probably no other classroom has ever taught as much and probably no one person at the front of the class could have offered more than they already do.

From the Mediterranean Sea, to the Dead Sea, over to the Red Sea, through the Jordan River, and every hotel pool in between, getting in the water was both a calling and a relief.

Without continuing much further, and to limit the amount of cryptic sentences about just some of the people on the trip, I will begin to conclude this and get to the big question I have been leading up to: was there anything more we could have hoped for? I know, unequivocally, my answer is no. We got it all. Even when we were full from everything, and moderately exhausted from living the glow-stick-rock-star kind of life, there was still a lot of room for each other. What validates my answer today, and what I know every single person in the photo just below realizes, is that everyone cared about each other on top of all the highlights they got simply by taking a 10-day trip to Israel. In the end, it was much more than that.

created at: 2012-07-26

Here we were in Jaffa, unaware of what the next several days would be like. But we found out a lot. To learn more about what we found, and to hear about many of the highlights from the trip, seek out these rock stars any time you see them in Boston. Now that they are on this blog, they should be instant celebrities. In case you don’t find one of us soon, but you are beyond excited to learn what the 2013 Israel Mission trip will be like, email Emilie Golenberg at

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