July 19, 2024
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Rabbi Klibanoff to Lead Israel Bonds Rabbinic Delegation Trip

In 2014, Rabbi Samuel Klibanoff, spiritual leader of Congregation Etz Chaim in Livingston, went for the first time on the Israel Bonds rabbinic delegation’s biennial trip to Israel. At the conclusion of the four-day trip, he felt inspired, moved and motivated. Inspired to help Israel Bonds reach its goals, moved to continue helping the State of Israel in any way possible and motivated to return in 2016.

Now, as one of the chairs of the delegation’s 29th Israel trip, Rabbi Klibanoff is working with co-chair Rabbi Martin Pasternak, Israel Bonds’ national director of synagogue and rabbinic activities, to put together a four-day trip that will hopefully affect the newest cohort of rabbis in similarly meaningful ways.

“Right now it’s about recruiting, trying to get new rabbis to go,” he said.

They are hoping to bring at least 30 rabbis and are “getting close,” Klibanoff added. The group will consist of rabbis of all denominations, from all over the United States and Canada, and the challenge is trying to construct a program that appeals to all and does not alienate anyone. The rabbis come from different backgrounds and each brings his or her own unique perspective to the trip. Everyone has something of value to contribute and each adds to the success of the program.

“The camaraderie is really special. We get beyond our religious ‘differences’ and bond on the issues common to all of us—starting with the importance of the State of Israel,” he noted. “We come out of the trip feeling glad the denominations can do this together. We all check our differences at the door and just feel really proud that this is what we’re raising money for. You purchase an Israel bond and have a portion of the State of Israel—that’s what your money is going to.”

This year’s trip will run from Monday, February 8, through Thursday, February 11. The itinerary includes three main components: limud (study), chesed and infrastructure. The limud portion will feature learning with Rabbi David Stav of Tzohar, focusing on topics which will appeal to all participants. This year’s cohort will participate in chesed opportunities with Yad Eliezer, an organization which works to fight poverty and hunger in Israel. Finally, during the infrastructure portion of the trip, participants will have the opportunity to visit some of the construction sites and view the progress of the high-speed rail, being built to connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Any in the group who also participated in the 2014 trip will likely be amazed at the current status of the project, as compared with what they saw two years ago. The high-speed rail is expected to be completed by December 2017.

As added features to the itinerary, the group will participate in visits to high-tech centers, including the Cyber Security Research Center, located at Ben Gurion University. The rabbis will also have the opportunity to see several new military bases in southern Israel.

During the trip, the group will meet with officials from the Ministry of Finance, who will endeavor to explain the scope of the vital relationship between Jews in the United States and elsewhere in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. Emphasis will be on Israel Bonds’ mission to strengthen Israel’s economic development and every sector of its economy. The officials “will illustrate how the development corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds enterprise has played a decisive role in Israel’s evolution from an agrarian nation into a groundbreaking, globally emulated leader in high-tech, green-tech and biotech,” said Pasternak.

The ultimate goal is for these rabbis to return to their respective congregations and “sell the congregants on Israel,” Klibanoff commented.

“Israel Bonds needs more purchasers at all levels,” he continued. “Our hope is that by seeing it all first-hand, rabbis can then tell their congregants that purchasing bonds is not tzedakah, but rather investing in the State of Israel.”

In short, this trip is intended to inspire, move and motivate, just as it successfully did for Rabbi Klibanoff two years ago.

The rabbinic delegation trip is subsidized for first-time participating rabbis of all denominations, and spouses are welcome. This year’s conference will be based in Jerusalem, as opposed to prior years which have been based in Tel Aviv. The delegation is headed by the rabbinic cabinet, a committee of four or five rabbis which virtually “meets” weekly to discuss relevant matters and help plan the trip.

For more information, please contact Rabbi Klibanoff at [email protected] or Rabbi Pasternak at [email protected].

By Jill Kirsch

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