The Great Meeting

People who have visited Israel often experience something I call “The Great Meeting” where they run across some thing or someone of importance or significance. For Sandy and me, the beginning of our Great Meeting happened two minutes after looking down at the beach from our room. We decided to spend a few minutes walking along the shore and within thirty second, we met TAE member Stacy Gold who was traveling in Israel with her family. It was such a great pleasure to run into Stacy and two of her three kids along the beautiful Tel Aviv beach.

That wonderful, chance encounter is par for the course in Israel and only the first of many delightful encounters.

As the members of the tour gathered, those of us who were already in Israel went to lunch at Dr. Shakshuka in Yafo (Joffa) What’s Shakshuka? If the name Dr. Shakshuka sounds familiar, it is because he was one of the restaurants featured on the Netflix Show Somebody Feed Phil.

Our second Great Meeting took place later in the afternoon as we collectively met with our long-time friend and tour educator, Uri Feinberg, who lead us around the ancient City of Yafo which served as a port for thousands of years. Our tour educator, Uri, demonstrated how a tel is developed (as in Tel Aviv). Using a number of hats representing generations of people who build their civilization on the top of previous civilizations, Uri demonstrated how large hills develop where archeologists can dig down through the layers and discover the more ancient civilization preserved underneath. Tel Aviv is an actual hill that is comprised of the remains of several civilizations dating back thousands of years.

Yafo rises as a hill above the waters of the Mediterranean. Using its height to provide a good vantage point, we took pictures of ourselves with the expansive Tel Aviv skyline in the background. At that very place, Uri shared some of the history of Theodore Herzl who provided leadership, foresight and had the prescience to all but predict the year of the establishment of the State of Israel and inspired the creation of Tel Aviv. It was not lost on me that our ability to stand in a free and bustling Israel, even with the many challenges that she faces, is nothing short of a miracle and a dream of thousand of years of Jewish hope.

Israel also provides a reason for Jews around the world to gather. Along with our TAE members, we have been joined by a group of friends on our trip who hail from Canada, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, and, of course, Texas. At the marvelous
Maganda restaurant, we had a wonderful opening dinner where we all met one another and began creating new relationships and strengthening old ones. Just as our chance meeting on the Tel Aviv beach was a “great meeting,” so is the coming together of Jews from across the country who are here to explore, engage, and connect.