Last month, Aish.com readers from Canada and Spain, Kentucky, Seattle and points in-between, gathered in Israel for a spectacular 8-day adventure of touring and studying with Aish.com. (See video below)
The opening night set the tone for a week of incredible inspiration. One participant described how he is battling cancer and wanted to visit Israel – possibility for the very last time. He and his wife wanted a trip that would be most spiritually meaningful, and so chose Aish.com's mission.
Another participant described how she is in the process of converting to Judaism. She had spent years searching for meaning and truth, and then one day a friend forwarded her a joke from Aish’s Jewlarious.com. She followed the link, started clicking around, and came to Rabbi Noah Weinberg’s 48 Ways to Wisdom. She read it and said, “That’s it! This is what I’ve been searching for my entire life.” This set her on a Jewish journey, and her joining the Aish.com Mission was her first intensive Jewish experience.
Participants enjoyed fascinating study sessions with Aish.com’s favorite writers – all in a classroom overlooking the Western Wall:
• Yaakov Salomon presented "Seven Wonders of Jewish History," an edge-of-the-seat exploration of the phenomenon of Jewish survival.
• Lori Palatnik gave an in-depth, moving discussion of “Soul and the Afterlife,” showing how our everyday choices create our eternity.
• Sara Yoheved Rigler shared deep insights into how Judaism is the ultimate path to spiritual growth.
The group enjoyed spending quality time with the some of the people behind Aish.com: Editor-in-Chief Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith, Senior Editor Rabbi Shraga Simmons, and Director of Development, Rabbi Jack Kalla.
Rabbi Coppersmith said: “We spend so much time behind the computer screen, not getting enough real interaction with our readers. This trip showed us that Aish.com is not just a website, but rather a community of people who are sharing the passion of Jewish learning.”
The group was awed by Seth Mandell, who told of turning the tragedy of his son’s murder at the hands of terrorists, into a positive and life-affirming effort to assist other Jews.
They got to see a new side of Yaakov Salomon – as singer and songwriter, whose guitar playing turned bus rides in songfests.
Participants marveled at the exciting day trips with world-class tour guide Rabbi Ken Spiro, author of "Crash Course in Jewish History." There were trips to religious and historical sites – City of David, Rachel’s Tomb, Masada and the Dead Sea, plus camel rides and dinner in the desert, Bedouin style.
Participants welcomed Shabbat by dancing with soldiers at the Western Wall, then went off the beaten track to enjoy Shabbat hospitality with residents of the Old City – seeing Jewish life in Jerusalem from the inside.
At the trip’s closing banquet, participants described the week as “transformational” and “the greatest experience of my life” that “exceeded all expectations.”
As one participant said, ”My only one regret is that I was unable to bring my wife and the other people most special to me. I hope that in the near future, they too will be able to enjoy this incredible experience.”
Don’t miss out on the next Aish.com mission in Summer 2011.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Next year in Jerusalem!