July 19, 2024
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Newcomers Hail Success of the Israel Bonds Rabbinic Delegation Trip

The Israel Bonds Rabbinic Delegation’s trip to Israel has long been a highlight of their rabbinic tenure for those rabbis who choose to participate. This year saw a number of newcomers joining the more seasoned rabbis and experienced participants. Rabbi Samuel Klibanoff, spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, was one of the leaders of the 29th biennial trip, held in early February.

“The Israel Bonds 29th rabbinic mission was a huge success this year with many first-time participants. The program wove together elements of chesed with Yad Eliezer, Limmud with Rabbi David Stav of Tzohar, and visits to infrastructure sites throughout Israel, including the new Ariel Sharon training base in the Negev and the high-speed rail between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which is currently under construction,” stated Klibanoff as he reflected on the trip.

“The underlying current of the group was recognizing that our love for Israel brings us all together. We spent our time focusing on our common ground rather than on our differences. This was Jewish unity at its finest. It was a privilege for me to chair this trip for such an auspicious group of religious leaders,” he continued.

One of the first-timers was Rabbi Joshua Hess, spiritual leader for the past seven years of Congregation Anshe Chesed in Linden. He was thrilled to be a participant and came away feeling bonded to his fellow rabbis by the shared goal of supporting the Jewish homeland.

“One of the highlights of the Israel Bonds Rabbinic Council trip to Israel was the fact that it brought rabbis from all over the religious spectrum and from all over North America together for the common goal and purpose of supporting the State of Israel. The camaraderie was phenomenal and it gave me a unique opportunity to pick the brains of the more seasoned rabbis for advice, guidance and counsel,” said Hess.

Rabbi Mendel Solomon, of Ahavat Torah—Chabad at Short Hills in Short Hills, New Jersey, another first-timer, agreed, saying, “We made powerful connections with rabbis from all denominations. Jewish unity and love of Israel brought us together in ways that just cannot happen in the U.S.”

Hess reflected that “perhaps the most gratifying part of the trip was seeing the Israeli spirit in action. Whether it was listening to Rav David Stav explain to us how Tzohar is helping to bridge the religious divide in Israel, or Professor Rivka Carmel, president of Ben-Gurion University, speaking about the Israeli cyber-tech industry or getting a first-hand look at the challenges that had to be overcome in order to build the high-speed train that will take passengers from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in only 30 minutes, it made me pause to reflect on how far we’ve come and how much more Israel is going to accomplish.”

Solomon added, “I make many regular trips to Israel, but this trip was a totally different experience than any I have had before. We saw first-hand Israel’s struggles, her successes and hopes for the future. We got a true sense of the pulse of Israel in terms of her promise in areas such as finance, cyber technology and religious issues.”

For Solomon, the most inspiring part of the trip came when they visited Bnei Netzarim, on the Gaza/Egypt border.

“That they are able to replant and regrow crops that were totally destroyed, and sell them internationally—that is very powerful. It shows us that we, as Jews, must seize every opportunity to rise from adversity,” he said.

In speaking about the contributions Israel Bonds has made to the State of Israel, Hess noted that “the $1.2 billion that all of us invested in Israel Bonds this past year helped the State balance its budget, enabled Israel to continue funding important urban and infrastructure development projects, and ensured another sizable investment into their high-tech sector.”

Solomon noted, “As rabbis, we all can come back and share what we saw. We can tell our congregants exactly where their dollars go. Israel Bonds helps every facet of Israel’s existence. There is no greater investment.”

Hess concluded by thanking Rabbi Klibanoff. “I am so grateful that Rabbi Klibanoff recruited me to participate in the trip. He is a respected colleague, a great friend and a marvelous commander in chief.”

By Jill Kirsch

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