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Temple Judea Visits the Tzahar Region

In June 2012 a group from Temple Judea spent time in the cities of Tzfat, Hatzor Haglilit and Rosh Pina, Federation's Partnership Region in the northern Galilee. Here are the contents of a letter from Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik, in which he shares his reflections with Tami Baldinger, Federation's Partnership 2Gether Chair.

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Dear Tami:

It is hard to believe that several weeks have passed since Temple Judea spent a full weekend in the Tzahar Region. It was very important for me to write this letter and make our amazing experience public knowledge, in hope that this will serve the partnership well. Please feel free to share it with others.

I will start by saying that if I had to choose one word it would be "MAGIC!" Twenty-five people who had never heard of the partnership, didn't know where (or what) Tzahar was and truly couldn't see themselves as anything but tourists were transformed by 72-hours in the Region.

We arrived in Tzfat on Thursday night, after four intensive days in Israel. Every day on the bus we had a few "words of the day;" on that Thursday the words were bait (home) and na'im me'od (pleased to meet you). I explained that we were home, and that they would soon meet amazing people, hence the importance of being able to make appropriate introductions.

The evening at the winery was superb; the food, great wine, violin music, and song and dance that followed. Despite being exhausted, my congregants felt that this was a different travel experience. We weren't just a group of tourists, we were true companions. They felt a deep relationship...loved and welcomed, and that the happiness that the "locals" showed was real and heart-warming.

Friday morning at the Federation-funded Youth Futures program was a great surprise. I personally did not know what to expect, and was moved beyond words. The experience was complete when, later that evening, as we were walking in Tzfat a few of the students recognized our congregants and ran to them with excitement, exchanging hugs and smiles with Shabbat Shalom blessings. My congregants were so moved and felt at home. Where else in Israel would a child recognize them by name in the street?!

Friday night at Livnot was the highlight of the week for all; never will Shabbat feel the same. We made sure to sit a Temple Judea congregant in-between each Livnot fellow. The conversations were unstoppable; true relationships were created.

Our Shabbat programming was what we have come to expect from Eyal Reiss at the International Center for Tzfat Kabbalah. He truly has no equal — his love, eloquence and joy of teaching was infectious, and the Havdallah on the roof of the Center left not a single person with dry eyes.

Sunday morning was devoted to supporting the Tzfat economy...and we sure did a great job at that!

All together, we left the Region with a true sense that we are privileged to be part of a special relationship.

Throughout the weekend, every time we were introduced to a different aspect of the Partnership, my congregants asked how they could get involved. Time after time, I explained that, rather than support a single program, the best way to show support is to get involved with our Partnership via the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, both as a volunteer and by making an annual gift.

I am sure that a significant amount of the participants who have never been involved with Federation will now make a contribution, know that it will — among other things — support the Partnership.

I truly believe there is no better way to expose our people to the work done by our Federation but by bringing them physically to see the work, be it in Palm Beach County, Israel or around the world.

It was my own experience with the Partnership that helped make this weekend possible. I am so happy that more rabbis were exposed to the Region this summer, but that is still not enough. We need to find ways to make it easy for families who are in Israel to spend time in the Region...send more people to Livnot...make sure every temple trip makes a significant and meaningful stop in the Region.

I know that for Temple Judea members this was an unforgettable experience, and I will continue to kindle the fire that was lit within them. They now have a strong sense of purpose and connection. Like any relationship, however, if forsaken it will slowly disappear. I hope that Federation and the leaders of the Partnership will stay in touch with the Temple Judea participants, inviting them to various events related to the Partnership, sustaining the relationship.

I want to thank all of those who were involved in the planning of this weekend, and those who participated. Kol ha Kavod.

It would have been amazing if around each table the participants would have had an opportunity to meet someone from Israel affected by the Partnership: teachers from the exchange; alumni of Ambassadors, Bonim Fellows (mifgash) and Gesher Hai (and their families). Every opportunity for personal interaction should be seized, inviting people who can share their stories. There is nothing more powerful than personal stories.

Looking forward to many more great joint experiences,

Rabbi Yaron Kapitulnik

Temple Judea

Interested in visiting the Tzahar Region when you are in Israel? Call 561-242-6686 or email.

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