BBUK Group See The Real Israel

``See the Real Israel`` B’nai B’rith UK Tour 2017

Report by Madeleine Simmons Shlomo Argov Unity Lodge

From day one at our first full meeting of the BB tour group for dinner at the Prima Royal Hotel, Jerusalem, we were united in friendship and interest. Our intensive programme, which had been meticulously planned by Greg Wand, leader of the group, together with our excellent tour guide, Stephen Kliner started with views of Jerusalem city, then a trip to the old railway station in the German quarter where Naomi Tsur gave us a “political” walking tour down the old Railtrack.

Our patient and expert coach driver Amzad came to take us into the old city where we saw the reconstructed impressive Hurva Synagogue, some of us climbing to the highest point to once again, see a view of the wonderful city of Jerusalem; then, of course, a visit to the Kotel for prayers and reflection, before returning to the hotel.

We were privileged to hear speakers in the evening including Superintendent Mickey Rosenfeld who explained in detail the very excellent security system within the city. Also Tammy Zieve from the Jerusalem Post and later Prof Yaron Dagan of the Golan Regional Council.

The next day we were off to see BB special projects in Qiryat Gat, with a short stop in the Martyrs Forest Memorial where Alan Schneider from BB World Centre Jerusalem specially came to meet us.

In Qiryat Gat, we firstly visited a special music orientated school joining in a musical percussion group with them which was great fun, and then on to the Feed the Hungry Project and some fruit and vegetable packing – quite a contrast! Generous donations were given by BB to the project and also the MDA when we visited the next day.

Our last day in Jerusalem was spent visiting the Knesset meeting Dov Lipman from Yesh Atid and Herzl’s grave and museum.

Then off in the coach northwards stopping in Tiberius for a river cruise on the Kinneret and some Israeli dancing on board!

We arrived at Kibbutz Hagoshrim in the Golan Heights in time for Shabbos dinner and a well-earned day of rest ahead.

Sunday we were back on the road to visit the impressive ruin of the Nimrod fortress, afterwards relaxing in a hospitable Druze village, sitting on the floor of a room eating a specially prepared and very tasty vegetarian lunch and listening to our Druze host and hostess.

Next at Kibbutz El Rom, we heard the sad story on film of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Also another very sad and emotional film at the Tel Hai memorial where Joseph Trumpeldor, a brave soldier, tragically died with many others, defending this early 20th century settlement against the Arabs.

At one time we were very near the Syrian border and heading in the coach down a bumpy track towards the Valley of Tears when we heard gunfire!  So Stephen and our driver thought it in our best interest to turn back – especially as we were near minefields too!!

Then on to lighter entertainment; picnic lunches near the Talmudic village, a visit to a chocolate and wine shop and a wine tasting experience.

The Kibbutz where we stayed also had great musical entertainment in the evenings and most of us enjoyed a good jig around the dance floor after our busy days out. On the last evening, Edna Miller staged an interesting Who do you think you are? programme, after which special ‘thank you’ presentations were made to all the wonderful people who made this trip possible.

One of the highlights of the tour for me was meeting the Medical Commanding Officer on Mount Bental near the Syrian Border. He briefed us on the humanitarian way that the IDF medical teams were helping injured Syrians over the Israeli border to receive treatment and in some cases long hospitalisation before returning to Syria. This has been ongoing for many years and has only recently been publicised as these heroic deeds become more well known.

Even our last day making our way back to Ben Gurion airport, we were still visiting interesting sites including a Jewish settlement destroyed in 735 by an earthquake and now being “re-incarnated”!  We were able to see the wonderful synagogue now already standing.

Then at the airport fond goodbyes to those leaving the country while us lucky ones stayed on to see more of “The Real Israel”!