When I told my friends that I was going to Haifa for the Boston-Haifa Connection March Meetings, I repeatedly got the same response: “Oh, so it’s work?” My trip to Haifa was the farthest thing from work. Instead, I made new friends while enjoying Shabbat dinner together (complete with homemade challah and hummus!), explored several neighborhoods with a stairs tour led by a Haifa young adult leader, and learned about amazing programs that we support (including Parents at the Center, Entrepreneurship accelerators, and Jewish Identity urban hacking programs). None of it felt like work. It felt like being welcomed home, joining our partners together in exploration, learning, strategizing and philanthropy.

I was impressed by how much time we spent in the community, and not in a hotel conference room. Every meeting was in a different neighborhood, at a different site, with new people. Even when we were in a conference room, we were engaged in captivating discussions about philanthropy and budgeting. I had heard about all the programs on paper before, but listening to the passion of the young adult committee in Haifa gave me new perspective. I heard about their dedication, their commitment, their creativity and their enthusiasm for touching countless young Jewish adult lives. I really enjoyed brainstorming together and thinking of ways we could best implement and support their visions.

Perhaps my favorite highlight of the trip was at the closing dinner, where all of us—Haifaim and Americans—were amazed to watch traditional Ethiopian dancers grace the dance floor, and then teach us their moves. The whole room was filled with laughter as we jumped and waved and wiggled. Many of us had never met just a few days earlier, but now we were together, dancing, in Israel. I hope to return soon, and often, to continue dancing in Israel.