It’s hard to believe tomorrow is departure day! PJ Library Parents to Israel has been in the works for nearly a year. The idea to take PJ Library parents to Israel took root just about a year ago, when, at a PJ Library Story Time and Birthday Party for Israel, a little girl asked her mom during a book reading, “Mommy, did Sammy the Spider really go to Israel? Does Israel really look like that?” Mom caught my eye, as I turned the page of the book. The answer to her daughter’s first question was easy. But I saw a hint of panic, or perhaps embarrassment, that she had no idea how to answer the second question. In a quiet voice, mom answered her daughter, “No, Sammy the Spider is make-believe and we use our imagination about Sammy’s trip to Israel. But, she continued, “Israel is a real place, and I hear it is very beautiful. I hope we will all go to Israel someday and see it for ourselves.”

It was in that public library, during the PJ Library Story Time, that PJ Library Parents to Israel was born. The goal of PJ Library Parents to Israel (PJLP2I) is to put Israel front and center in the lives of PJ Library families by educating, inspiring and empowering parents of all faiths of PJ Library to integrate Israel into their families’ lives and to answer their children’s questions about Israel. The task of instilling in children love for Israel and responsibility for the Jewish family resides with parents. When parents, those who are Jewish and those of other faiths, feel love for Israel and accept responsibility for the welfare of our Jewish family, then these values will be naturally and easily transmitted to their children.

Magic happens in Israel. Israel transforms lives and deepens connections to the country and the people, to each other and to the Jewish community. This inaugural group of PJ Library Parents to Israel, 29 individuals from various cities and towns, are bound for an adventure that is so much more than a trip. It is a journey—a journey to one of the most holy, special, inspiring and exciting places on earth! During this journey, parents will discover Israel, make new friends, and most important, explore ways to teach their children about Israel and to serve as ambassadors and advocates for Israel.

PJ Library Parents to Israel is a REALLY BIG IDEA with grand visionaries behind it. As one who experienced the transformational power of Israel for himself as an adult, Robert Israel Lappin, President of Lappin Foundation, blessed the idea of helping to fund a unique Israel experience for PJ Library Parents. Harold Grinspoon, creator and funder of PJ Library, put his support behind PJ Library Parents to Israel as well. Both gentlemen know that parents will return from their Israel experience changed in profound ways. Thank you, Mr. Lappin, Mr. Grinspoon, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and other donors, including PJ Library Parents to Israel themselves, all of whom contributed to make the Israel experience affordable and accessible.

Tomorrow evening we leave on a night-time flight on El Al, the official airline of Israel. We will arrive in Israel on Wednesday, mid-day, and then we hit the ground running, attempting to see and do as much as we possibly can during our time in Israel. The first few days we will be in holy Jerusalem, our feet walking in the footsteps of our ancestors, our hands touching the Western Wall, our eyes beholding the most unique city in the world, and our hearts filling with love for a place and for a people most have yet to discover. Plenty of fun is in our future throughout our time in Israel, including camel rides, ascending Mount Masada, floating in the Dead Sea (lowest spot on the earth, by the way!), and dancing on a boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee.

Please come back again soon to read more about our adventures in Israel.

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