Are you up for exploring the streets of Tel Aviv to find that one-of-a-kind hummus or those borekas to die for? ¶ How about sampling vintages from a boutique winery on the Mediterranean coast that’s been owned by the same family for over a century? ¶ Are you up for a deep dive into Jerusalem’s thriving arts scene — fiction, poetry, film, design?
Those experiences and many more await travelers on the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s 2020 Community Trip to Israel: “Israeli Food, Wine, & Art — Off the Beaten Path,” taking place May 31–June 10, 2020, with trip co-chairs Zane and Melissa Brown.
Exploring our Jewish homeland through the sensory experiences of food, wine, and art will help community members make stronger connections with Israel and its diverse cultures in tangible, memorable ways, says Rabbi Samuel Klein, the Federation’s Director of Jewish Engagement.
“This is a concept that resonates across the broad reaches of the Jewish community in Seattle, and even for those without a strong connection to Israel. It gives unique perspectives about Israeli and Jewish history through the lens of food, wine, and art,” he says.
Food creates connections between past, present, and future. “The culinary experiences we will offer will be like a book filled with stories of Jews who brought their life aspirations to creating a unique cuisine that reflects their traditions,” he adds.
Israeli cuisine is a product of the country’s start-up culture, where chefs willing to experiment have produced flavorful dishes that creatively reflect ancient and modern food traditions. “Israel is taking this fusion of different cultures and creating an innovative cuisine,” he says. Likewise, the creativity stirred by the mixing of peoples has led to a resurgence of art culture in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Highlights of the trip’s leg through Jerusalem will include a guided walk to learn about Jerusalem writers, such as renowned poet Yehuda Amichai; a visit to the Tmol Shilshom bookstore and café, where novelist and journalist Amos Oz was a regular; and a stop at the Kol HaOt Art Gallery and studio.
There will be plenty of food for thought as well as gastronomic and sensory pleasures. The itinerary includes a special study program at the Shalom Hartman Institute about building a Jewish society in a modern state; a tour of the Knesset with Stav Shaffir — the youngest female Member of the Knesset in Israel’s history — and a presentation on media coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict with journalist Matti Friedman.
The trip’s itinerary will be full, varied, and energetic! Here is just a sampling:
Jaffa’s Hidden Workshops: A walking tour of Jaffa’s treasure of artist and designer workshops, revealing the history of Tel Aviv’s earliest days. Shuk and Cook: Divide into groups, visit a local market to pick up ingredients, split into teams, and prepare a meal under the guidance of professional chefs. The Art Scene in Tel Aviv: Visit galleries that have put the White City at the forefront of the arts world.
Eating Our Way to Zionism: Experience the cuisine and culture of Zichron Ya’akov, one of the Zionist movement’s earliest settlements, established by Central European Jews in 1882. The Wineries of Galilee: A visit to some of the Galilee’s best wineries. Druze Village in the Carmel Mountains: A window into the unique world of Israel’s Druze community, including a home hospitality lunch.
Kabbalat Shabbat Services: Welcome Shabbat with renowned musicians of Nava Tehila, followed by Shabbat dinner with lone soldiers. Navigate Your Way Through the Labyrinth of Israel Politics: Hebrew University Prof. Reuven Hazan will give an introduction to Israel’s turbulent political scene. The Best Falafel in the World! Right Here in the Old City: Take your pick of tasty street food for lunch. Israeli Society Through Cinema: Experience how Israeli society is reflected in film at the Ma’aleh School of Film and Television, with special screenings and discussion. Chickpea Heaven: Check out the best hummus joints at the Mahane Yehuda Shuk, taste chickpea candy, and pick up some classic hummus recipes. Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design: A visit to one of the world’s most prestigious art schools. Farewell Dinner at the Eucalyptus: A kosher restaurant specializing in Israeli food inspired by the Bible and by Jewish-Aleppo, Jewish-Iraqi, and Palestinian cuisines.
Sound like a total immersion in Israeli culture? It is! As Klein says, “Immersive experiences are powerful ways to deepen connections with Israel and with each other. If you can provide substantive content, you get a more textured, holistic view of Israel. And an immersive, cohort-based program will build meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime.”
41 traveled on the 2018 community trip to Israel
24 received Teen Israel Scholarships in 2019
20 couples traveled in Seattle's inaugural Honeymoon Israel cohort
5 Teen TILI participants will use the pilot Samis Israel Education Incentive Grant