Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

Dear PAS Community,

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem!
We send greetings from the largest single synagogue trip ever – 450 members of Park Avenue Synagogue who have been traveling on the Congregational Trip to Israel celebrating Israel at 70 and PAS at 136. Community members of all ages have explored Israel and Judaism on five different tracks and all together during communal moments, including this Shabbat together in Jerusalem. It has been a meaningful week for all of us, as we strengthen our bonds with each other and with Israel.

During the week, the five tracks have traveled from Tel Aviv to Haifa, from Sderot to the Upper Galilee and so many places in between, exploring the land, speaking to people, and learning about countless facets of Israeli culture, politics, and day-to-day living. We also tried to leave Israel a little better than we found it performing acts of Tikkun Olam, from picking vegetables with Leket to making donations of needed items to lone soldiers at Habayit Shel Benji, to visiting organizations like Hand in Hand.

A PAS Torah in Jerusalem
A highlight of the week was the presentation of a Torah scroll to Masorti (the Conservative Movement in Israel) for use at the egalitarian section of the Kotel, known as Ezrat Yisrael or Robinson’s Arch, as a sign of solidarity and commitment to religious pluralism in Israel. Rabbi Cosgrove escorted this Torah to Israel and on Wednesday evening, it was presented to Yizhar Hess, CEO of Masorti, and Rabbi Chaya Rowen-Baker of Masorti at our communal event in Jerusalem celebrating Israel at 70 and PAS at 136. A festive hora with the Torah was a pinnacle moment of the evening. The next morning, PAS children celebrated their Bnei Mitzvah with the Torah at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where they were welcomed by James Snyder, PAS member and the Museum’s Director Emeritus. Before we leave Israel, several tracks will escort the Torah to its new home at Ezrat Yisrael.

Leadership Shabbaton in Tel Aviv
Just prior to the start of the congregational trip, more than 60 PAS Board and Advisory Council members, Honorary Trustees, Committee and Congregational Trip leaders gathered for a Leadership Shabbaton in Tel Aviv to learn, pray, listen, and build community. In addition to celebrating Shabbat together, these lay leaders, together with Rabbi Cosgrove, Rabbi Savenor, and Beryl Chernov learned from and with religious, political and social changemakers in Israel.

The Shabbaton concluded with a historic ceremonial Board Meeting at the Yitzhak Rabin Center, where PAS lay leaders were addressed by the Center’s Chair Dalia Rabin and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. During the course of the meeting, PAS Chairman of the Board Marc Becker bestowed honorary memberships upon PM Ehud Barak and Masorti’s Yizhar Hess. PAS President Natalie Barth shared a proclamation that expressed the Board’s approval of permanently lending a sefer Torah to Masorti for use at the egalitarian section of the Kotel.

Shabbat Shalom, and L’hitra’ot!
All of the encounters that the five tracks have had during the week have sparked dialogue, questions, understanding, and further engagement. As we prepare for Shabbat, we look forward to having one more adventure or two and then returning home to share all that we’ve learned.

Image:  PAS Bnei Mitzvah with the Sefer Torah now on permanent loan to Masorti
PAS Bnei Mitzvah with the Sefer Torah now on permanent loan to Masorti

See more pictures from our trip on Facebook and share our excitement by watching the welcome video that opened our Wednesday evening celebration of Israel and PAS.

We wish you all a Shabbat Shalom!

Darcy Dalton, Trip Chair
Amy Steiner, Trip Chair
Rabbi Charlie Savenor, Director of Congregational Education