Our group departed Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) and it was bittersweet. Leading a tour of 33 people through Israel — a land and people who own part of my heart — is exhilirating and exhausting. It was good to have a few days with family; yet, I found myself longing for the stories, the energy, the questions from our group. My head and heart have already begun to plan the next trip.
Last night, our final night in Tel Aviv, was breathtaking. We joined our cousins at a wonderful restaurant on the beach. Only in Israel, is this story possible.
At a table of delicious salad with corn, goat cheese, boiled egg, and fresh vegetables, were seven of us. I was born a Jew in Minnesota in 1970 to parents who grew up in St. Paul at a Conservative synagogue and in North Minneapolis at an Orthodox shul, I became a Reform rabbi and have the honor of being the spiritual leader at , a progressive synagogue community in Southwest Minneapolis.
My life partner, Michael, was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), immigrated to Canada in 1980, then moved to the United States a few years ago. His parents were both born in Germany at the dawn of World War II and made their way to Rhodesia, escaping certain death from the Nazis.
Our daughters, who sat drinking their strawberry and banana milk shakes (Israelis make the BEST milkshakes!), were born in Canada and California, spent their first few years in Seattle, and we now live in Minneapolis.
Also at the table were our cousins from Michael's family:
Matthew, born in Rhodesia, now living in Israel and working in the high-tech industry after a successful tour in the Israeli Army.
Daniel, Matthew's older brother, also born in Rhodesia, now living in Berlin for the last 10 years.
Jasmin, Daniel's girlfriend, born in Germany, and recently accepted to the Abraham Geiger Rabbinical College to become one of the first rabbis ordained in Germany in more than 60 years.
Perhaps this is what the prophet Ezekiel had in mind when he cried out that the dry bones of the Jewish people would once again breathe life in the land of our ancestors. Certainly, our meal was a great spiritual feast, the grand story of the Jewish people scattered to every corner of the planet, home, breaking bread, together.