After that, spurred by my daughter's upcoming Bat Mitzvah, I and the rest of my family did a tour with several other families from my congregation. This mission, as it was called, emphasized the Israel I grew up learning about, the Jewish state that we mention in many of our prayers. We examined the struggle of the Jews thousands of years ago, sixty years ago and today. I touched both the sacred Western wall of the old temple and the much newer wall that separates Israel proper from the territories.
Two very different experiences in the same country. But these worlds get very close. We drove by Tel Aviv University, visited a once-secret bullet factory near the Weizmann Institute and said our welcoming prayers to Jerusalem just downhill from Hebrew University. But more than that, one cannot help but notice the plaques on the walls at the Technion mentioning the various infrastructure donated from American Jews. These have been possibly the greatest gifts to the country as the strong Israeli University system has propelled an extremely successful high tech industry giving Israel an economic security that seemed unimaginable when I was a kid.