Imagine participating in a transformative trip across Israel, experiencing its immense natural beauty, dynamic religious expressions, rich culture and history, vibrant cuisine, incredible innovations, and remarkable and diverse people. Now imagine experiencing this with hundreds of other San Diego Jews, including local clergy, staff from congregations and Jewish agencies, leaders of all ages, and Jewish professionals and passionate volunteers.
That is the opportunity Jewish Federation of San Diego County is offering with CommUNITY Trip to Israel May 4 – 11, 2023. Participants will be there to celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday and the 25th Anniversary of San Diego’s partnership with Sha’ar HaNegev, a region in southern Israel. Federation is busy planning this once-in-a-generation Israel travel experience.
“There is nothing like being in Israel with its inspiring mix of ancient and new, traditional and innovative, and, of course, the incredible people,” Heidi Gantwerk, President and CEO of Jewish Federation of San Diego County shared with GB Magazine. “Whether you have been to Israel ten times, once, or never, the CommUNITY mission will be the trip of a lifetime because of the access we will have, the places we will stay, the social and political issues we will explore, and the caliber of people with whom we will meet.”
Federation is crafting this transformative trip to include private tours, special events, and VIP access to show Israel beyond the headlines and explore tech innovations, social cohesion and challenges, women’s accomplishments, immigration, arts, cuisine, and more. “Trip participants will have a close-up look at incredible programs their dollars fund through their support of Federation,” adds Gantwerk. “Our local support has such a positive influence on families’ lives – when San Diegans see it for themselves, it cements a really special, personal relationship between our communities.”
One of Federation’s core priorities is to cultivate global people-to-people connections with programs that connect community members to their Jewish heritage, to historic and modern Israel, and to fellow Jews around the world. As an example, Federation’s ShinShinim program brings young Israelis to work as Israel emissaries throughout San Diego, building what Gantwerk calls “a cultural bridge” between our communities.
“The reach and access of our Federation will open doors and provide opportunities that are otherwise unattainable,” adds Jack Maizel, Board Chair of Jewish Federation of San Diego County. “Just as important, we are going as a community to visit and show support for our sister region. We know that Federation does a lot of good in Israel. Now we will be able to go and actually see the work with our own eyes. This is a once in a generation opportunity.”
The CommUNITY trip is the first of its kind for San Diego since 2006. Generous underwriting keeps the cost reasonable, and significant subsidies are offered for the first 50 people between ages 25-45.
“This trip isn’t happening in a vacuum,” Gantwerk concludes. “It is building on the incredible relationships our community has with Israel and Israelis. And when we all return home from this life-changing experience, we will build on that with a stronger sense of community and opportunities to connect to each other.”