Pezzano Mickey & Bornstein LLP December 2019

DEC 2019

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Perspectives PMB

IF NOT NOW, WHEN? Saying Yes to a Once-in-a-Lifetime Adventure in Israel

Israel has always been on my list of places to visit, but it never seemed like the right time. About six months ago, I was at a seminar and one of the attendees, a retired judge, mentioned that he and a local attorney, both of whom had been to Israel in the past, were putting together a group of lawyers and judges to travel to Israel. My immediate thought was: “If not now, when?” Although I have done a fair amount of traveling, I had never been on an organized tour, and I wasn’t sure I would like having a rigid schedule. Except for one other person, I didn’t know any of the people going. Still, I thought this was an adventure I probably shouldn’t pass up.

trip. The people were interesting and fun, each bringing something unique. Our tour guide was amazing, with boundless knowledge and passion for his country. But what really set this trip apart were the speakers and events that had been arranged for us. Starting in Tel Aviv, we got a private lecture from Jonathan Spyer, a British-Israeli journalist focusing on Middle Eastern affairs. We visited the Ayalon Institute, a secret bullet factory, now a museum and historical site, located in a tunnel below a kibbutz laundry. We explored the ancient port city of Jaffa. We were fortunate to visit an air force base where we met a special unit for soldiers with disabilities. In Israel, everyone (male and female) goes into the military at age 18. The typical question young people ask one another is “What will you do in the military?” Before this program, young people with special needs were left out, but now there is a place for them. They stood proudly as they shared how they contribute to the armed forces of their country. It was sobering to see the Atlit Detainee Camp Museum, where we saw how Jewish immigrants seeking refuge in Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s were detained after surviving the Holocaust. Also eye-opening was visiting Kibbutz Erez next to Gaza, where missiles are often launched into Israel. In fact, one day after returning to the U.S., we learned that some 350 missiles were fired from Gaza. About 30 of those landed near the kibbutz. It’s hard to imagine raising children in such an environment. A Jeep tour along the Syrian border with Ilan Shulman, a former Israel Defense Forces paratrooper and intelligence officer, was a

highlight of the trip. Passing signs that read “Danger —Mines!”was a little nerve-wracking, but we could not have been in better hands. We spent a number of days in Jerusalem, a magnificent city that combines the ancient and the modern. In addition to the archaeological ruins, we explored the Old City and the different quarters. The Western Wall, with its underground tunnels, was a highlight. Before leaving Jerusalem, we toured the Supreme Court of Israel and the Knesset (Israel’s legislative branch), followed by Yad Vashem (Israel’s Holocaust museum and memorial) and Machane Yehuda Market, where we could feel the influence of Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Ethiopia, and other countries’ cultures. No trip to Israel would be complete without a dip in the Dead Sea—and, yes, you really do float! This was followed by taking a cable car to the top of Masada, the site of the Great Revolt almost 2,000 years ago, which became synonymous with Israel’s quest for freedom and independence. Israel is an incredibly diverse country both culturally and geographically. In an area of land about the size of New Jersey, you can experience beaches, mountains, and deserts. I hope to return someday and experience even more of this magical place.

So, on Halloween, I found myself boarding a plane to Israel for the 10-day trip of a lifetime.

I can say that the things I was most concerned about turned out to be the best parts of the

–Wendy Bornstein

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