BAR and BAT MITZVAH

By Rabba Liron Levy

Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for unto thee will I give it. (Genesis 13,17).

One of my goals as a Conservative Rabbi is to educate the children of Neve Hanna with Zionism and a true love for Eretz Israel. I believe that our children should have a deep connection and appreciation for our wonderful country.

At the Bar and Bat Mitzvah program, I enroll each child as a young Israeli ambassador. Besides learning history and the religious nature of the land, part of their program is experiencing Eretz Israel with all their senses, traveling the country from north to south, from east to west. Our journey begins close to home getting familiar with the Kiryat Gat area. We enjoy the forest and challenge our fears by taking horseback rides into the woods. In another trip we are traveling to exciting Tel-Aviv. We walk on the beach, enjoy sight-seeing interesting monuments and conclude the day with the “Dialog in the Dark” tour. During the tour, blind guides lead us through dark but designed spaces: nature, a noisy pedestrian crossing, a port, and a market. Blind and vision impaired individuals take an active part in opening visitors’ eyes in the darkness, demonstrating that their world is not lesser, but simply different.

Our journey to the North is in the middle of the winter when it’s cold and snowy. We
hike Carmel Mountain, near Haifa, with it’s most beautiful landscape – a combination
of green forest, blue sea and animals. We acknowledge the Israeli Druze community
and its brave connection with the Jews in Israel. We spend the night at the NH house in Rosh Pina, waking up very early in order to begin our day at Hermon Mountain, the only snowy mountain in Israel. You should see the children’s faces when they touch the snow for the first time in their lives!

The highlight of the year is in the summer when we travel to Eilat, the southern point in Israel and the number one vacation resort. We visit the underwater museum, go on a boat trip, dive with dolphins, ride bicycles in the desert and enjoy good food, snacks and much ice cream.

We finish our Israeli journey at the end of the year in our capital, Jerusalem. The children experience the Old and the New City, celebrate at the Egalitarian Kotel and absorb the magical atmosphere of the Holy City.

It is always sad to finish the B’nai Mitzvah year and say goodbye. My main comfort is knowing I gave the children their first steps in Israel as God commanded Avraham in genesis. We give them the power to rise to their life journey in Eretz Israel.

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