You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy Israel

8 Oct

As the creative director at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, it’s fair to say I have had more exposure to Israel than typical non-Jewish Americans.  My work in developing the online resources for the Heller Israel Advocacy Initiative alone educated me about Israel’s demographics and culture.  But my experience was not merely a virtual one – I was fortunate to be sent on a mission in 2010, when Federation Executive Director Howard Tevlowitz said to me before leaving, “Once you go, you’ll understand.”  My time in Israel seemed magical as my preconceptions of the country were completely wrong.  It is not a war-torn desert. The residents are not angry, gun-toting people.  I was never in fear for my life while I was there.

The reality is that Israel is a thriving country and the people are beautiful and engaging – Israelis are eager to talk about technology, politics or facets of their own country, (I was scolded for not visiting the North).  The scenery is gorgeous, like the biblical and beautiful Negev desert or the modern skyline of Tel Aviv versus the ancient architecture of Jerusalem.  While in Jerusalem, I made sure to visit holy sites for each of the major religions represented. These included the Temple Mount, (Islam), which was quiet and a bit eerie, and seeing the stone where the body of Jesus was laid in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, (Christianity), was not an everyday experience.  But interestingly, the most unforgettable moment for me was being at The Western Wall, (Judaism), at the beginning of Shabbat, where it was crowded and bursting with positive energy.  Israel surely offers opportunity for religious devotion, but she also offers spectacular history and geography lessons as well as a resilient people who are outspoken and charming.  You can read my blog about the trip here.

chris dome of the rock

What are some preconceptions about Israel you may have had that changed?

Chris Alexander is the Creative Director at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: