On March 3rd, 20 Young Couples from Colorado, began the adventure of a lifetime together. After hours of travel across the world, we touched down in the state of Israel, unaware of what the next 10 days would bring. Honeymoon Israel is a new program that brings Young Couples, where at least one partner is Jewish, on a trip of a lifetime to Israel. As an agency partner, JCC Denver helped to recruit participants, staff the trip itself and help facilitate participant involvement in the community upon their return. Through a high-end yet affordable trip to Israel (thanks to generous donations), Honeymoon Israel works to engage young couples in an open-ended conversation about how they can connect to Jewish peoplehood and how they might incorporate Jewish values and traditions in their families.
Our trip was nothing but extraordinary. We visited holy sites to both Jews and Christians, hiked through the southern desert of Israel, floated in the Dead Sea, celebrated Shabbat, and explored the beauty of Jewish community and family. The trip braided together people from different backgrounds; those born Jewish, adopted into the Jewish faith (or who have converted) and those who have chosen to spend their life with a Jewish person, representing the fabric of Jewish American community today. Each couple worked to tackle the same questions; what does it mean to be Jewish today? How do we build a Jewish home together that works for us? How can we create community and be plugged into the existing one in Colorado? The magic of Israel enhanced our conversations about their futures and inspired them to challenge each other with the hard questions about raising a Jewish family, navigating Jewish ritual life and community involvement.
Israel has served as a diving board for these couples, to jump in head first into the pool of Jewish community in Colorado. They are eager to learn, eager to explore and eager to meet others like them who are on a Jewish journey of their own. Honeymoon Israel gave these couples the permission to be a part of the Jewish community even if they are “non-traditional,” and the language with which to express their desire to be a heard and validated in the Jewish community. This vital program is on the forefront of thinking about the future of the American Jewish community; welcoming young people with open, loving arms and meeting them where they are at.
Know someone who should go on Honeymoon Israel? Applications for the next round of trips are open through April 15th. Learn more about the trip, qualifications, and application at www.honeymoonisrael.org