The title of the mini-course that I am currently teaching at Temple Emanu-El is “A Spiritual Exploration of the Land of Israel.”
In it, I ask our congregants to keep in mind the meta-question that frames our focus and conversation, that being: “What does it look like, feel like, and what does it mean for a Jewish individual, and the Jewish people, to have a ‘spiritual connection’ to the Land of Israel.”
In this question is an assumption that there is such thing as a ‘spiritual connection’ and that it is possible for people to have it with a place.
For some of you reading this, you are shaking your head ‘yes’, as the assumption reflects what you know in your ‘kishkas’. For more generations than we can count, our people have been intertwined with the Land of Israel, and her people, and its fate. We orient ourselves towards Israel through our prayers and food, our life-cycle events, and our dreams.
For some of you reading this, you are not quite sure… the assumption of a spiritual connection to this land an ocean away does not immediately resonate. That is ok, of course. But you, too, are part of a Jewish culture, perhaps even a Jewish civilization, that has Israel woven into our history and our destiny, and currently houses the bleeding edge of the great Jewish experiment.
One of our congregants described her connection to Israel as “there is just something in the air…”. And by this, she meant not just the physical oxygen, but when in Israel, there is something that permeates our ‘being’ like air that makes you feel…different. That allows you to connect to something bigger. That propels you by coursing through your veins. Perhaps it’s in the zeitgeist, or in how your senses take in the sounds. “There is something in the air” is a way of trying to describe something that is very difficult to pin down, yet is delightfully obvious to those who experience it.
This week has been a full celebration of Israel, and a recognition of the lives given to get us to where we are. Literally every night Temple Emanu-El has had programming designed to connect you to this amazing land, and her people. Our hope is that through our synagogue’s focus, like a little magnet to a loadstone, your soul feels the pull to the East like a calling.
Tomorrow night, our Shabbat service will continue to celebrate Zion, and explore the ideals and hopes that come with being part of something…great.
It is my pleasure to announce, as part of that sacred time, our next congregational trip to Israel for June of 2022. We will have two tracks, one geared towards our families, and one that will be ‘Adult Only.’ If you have never been, this is your chance. If you have not been in a while, come. If you have been many times, if you are like me, you are pining to go back. Click here for more information, and let me know if you want to talk to me about coming with us on this life changing, and soulful, journey.