When the ARZA slate for the World Zionist Congress elections was officially announced last week with my name on it, I was humbled. The World Zionist Congress is the democratic body of the Jewish people worldwide that will meet this fall for the first time since 2010, and as a member of the ARZA slate, I will have the opportunity to represent Reform values to the World Zionist Congress and advocate for more funding to programs that promote religious pluralism, equality, and peace in Israel.
Yet aside from being humbled, I thought back to my experience on my Birthright trip three years ago. I remembered my night out in Tel Aviv and my trip to the Western Wall, but the most lasting images are from all those hours I spent on our tour bus, crisscrossing from Haifa to Tiberias to Jerusalem to Beersheva. I remember most strongly the scene as we left Tiberias, driving up the winding roads from Lake Kinneret to the hills beyond. Looking out the window, I saw the yellow-brown grass everywhere, green bushes dotting the landscape and the occasional signpost that listed our location in Hebrew, Arabic and English. The land looked so serene from my seat on the bus, equal parts austere and equal parts welcoming.