(March 14, 2018 / JNS) Nearly 800 participants from 80 communities around the world came to Israel this week with Chabad’s Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, as the culmination of a six-session adult-education course titled “Survival of a Nation: Exploring Israel Through the Lens of the Six-Day War.” Tens of thousands of participants completed the course in more than 400 locations worldwide.
On the trip—the largest Chabad has ever brought to Israel—participants met with local Israelis and soldiers, studied about their religious connection to the land, and heard from leading politicians and personalities, including Yom Kippur War hero Avigdor Kahalani, Nobel Prize in chemistry winner Aaron Ciechanover and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Friedman gave a short, Talmudic-based talk on the connection of the Jewish people to Israel.
In classic Chabad style, the group paraded a Torah that was saved by a 14-year-old boy from a burning synagogue in Hamburg, Germany, on Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass,” Nov. 9-10, 1938) at the Cave of the Patriarchs (also called the Cave of Machpelah) in the city of Hebron. The Torah was recently donated to the JLI, which restored it and loans it to other Jewish communities.
In addition, the group gave awards to two wounded veterans: Dr. Asael Lubotzky, who despite being permanently disabled by wounds he suffered in the Second Lebanon War went on to become a practicing physician; and Yarin Ashkenazi, who was wounded four times during his military service and fought to return to his unit after each injury.
Founding director of JLI Rabbi Efraim Mintz called the trip “an immersive learning experience to explore the soul of the country and to try to understand the deep connection we all have with the Holy Land.”
Mintz added that “our goal is to get to know the country, but also the people who live here and the brave young people who protect our cherished homeland.”
Rabbi Yankie Denburg, co-director of Chabad Jewish Center in Coral Springs, Fla., who along with his wife, Chana, brought 18 members of his community on the trip, described the tour as “transformative” for his group. “Experiencing the Holy Land brings home everything we’ve been studying and praying about,” he said.
The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute’s programs, available in seven languages, are currently offered in more than 1,000 communities in 27 countries.