We recently hosted two delegations from Denver congregations – Temple Emmanuel and Temple Sinai. Afterwards they told us that their visit to the Negev was one of the highlights of their entire Israel tour.
The first delegation, from Temple Emmanuel, headed by Rabbi Joe Black of the Denver reform congregation, was the largest delegation from Denver to visit Israel this year.
The group toured the country for a week and dedicated an entire day to Ramat Hanegev. This is their first time that Ramat Hanegev was included in their itinerary. This may be the result of Shmulik Rifman’s visit to the temple last year and a work meeting with Rabbi Black that included several issues for cooperation. Rabbi Black led a delegation of 36 visitors from his reform congregation. The group members visited various tourist attractions, rode on camels, toured the agricultural R&D experimental station and Shanty House, and were hosted for coffee and light refreshments by families at Midreshet Ben-Gurion. For most of the visitors this was their first time in Israel and the desert experience was foreign and new for them. Their enthusiastic reactions were heard throughout the tour, enthusiasm towards the pioneering efforts and creativity of the local people and their work, their spirit and their vision. We hope that this first delegation from the large reform congregation of Temple Emmanuel is a sign of good things to come.
Three days after the Temple Emmanuel visit, we were privileged to host a delegation from Temple Sinai, another reform synagogue from Denver, with a large congregation that visits Israel annually. They, too, had never been to Ramat Hanegev before and this was the first time they agreed to leave Jerusalem behind for one day and come to visit us. This delegation of 22 people was headed by Rabbi Rick Rheins and his wife, Susan. Their visit included the agricultural R&D experimental station, Nitzana and the surrounding area and ended at the Ayalim student village, visiting local families in the community-village of Ashalim. This delegation also left with elation and enthusiasm spurred by the fantastic activities taking place in Ramat Hanegev.
Although we received their reactions “in real time” throughout the tour, many appreciative e-mails arrived later, including this one:
I would like to thank you for organizing and leading our wonderful experience in Ramat Hanegev. Truly, it was a highlight of the trip, and on our return to Yerushalayim the bus was abuzz with everyone sharing their impressions of the day and their experiences in Ashalim. Rick joins me in expressing our deepest appreciation, and we look forward to visiting Ramat Hanegev on future Temple Sinai trips to Israel.
Chag Pesach Sameiach to you and your family, as well as to all our wonderful hosts at Mitzpeh Revivim, Nitzana, Ayalim and Ashalim!