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“Beyond Milk and Honey” mission to provide new way of seeing Israel
September 30th, 2012
The itinerary and plans for the “Beyond Milk and Honey MJF Community Mission to Israel 2013” are coming together. Participants will be able to experience Israel in new ways.
For one, this mission will have a distinctive focus. Said Ro’ee Peled, co-emissary to Milwaukee from Israel and co-director of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Israel Center, the key word is sustenance.
“What sustains us and the land and people of Israel?” he said in an interview on Sept. 20. This comprises much more than food for the body; yet because so many people from so many cultures have brought their ways of living and eating to Israel, through cuisine it is possible to “tell the story of Israeli society,” he said.
For another, two local experts are involved and helping to lead this mission. Mission chair Chef Rebecca Guralnick is owner of the culinary services firm Cooking from the Heart.
The mission also will have a scholar-in-residence, Rachel N. Baum, a scholar and teacher of Jewish subjects at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a coordinator of UWM’s Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies.
“They complete each other,” said Peled. Guralnick will bring “gastronomic expertise” to exploring Israeli foods, and Baum will bring knowledge of the culture, he said.
“Trips to Israel so frequently focus on the spiritual,” Guralnick wrote in a Sept. 20 email. “This community mission is different in that it promises to stimulate our physical senses as well, with a focus on the ‘culinary culture’ of the country.”
“What excites me most about the trip,” she continued, “is the opportunity to go into private homes, kibbutzim, farms, factories and restaurants, to experience the incredible sights, smells and tastes of Israel in a first-hand and hands-on way, not to mention learning about and sampling world-class, award winning wines. As the first mission of its kind from our region, we look forward to sharing the experience with first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike.”
And Baum in a telephone conversation Sept. 20 said, “A lot of learning is about the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of experience.” Part of her approach to education, she said, involves “making the familiar look strange, and the strange look familiar.”
On this mission, “my role will be to help people think more deeply” about what they see; thereby, they will get “a guided intellectual tour as well as a guided physical tour,” Baum said.
In addition, the dates of the mission, Feb. 21-March 2, include the joyous and raucous Jewish festival of Purim. Therefore, mission travelers will be able to celebrate Purim on the streets of Tel Aviv on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 23.
For still another, this mission will spend more time in Israel’s southern Negev Desert region than most missions do.
“People tend to forget that the Negev is part of Israel,” Peled said. Yet there is “a new Zionist movement blooming over there” with “young pioneers” working to create communities in the region.
Moreover, the mission participants won’t be seeing the usual “touristic Negev,” but will be guests of the Ramat Negev Regional Council. They will explore the ancient Spice Route, visit desert farms and an agricultural research center, stop at a students’ village created by the Ayalim Association devoted to helping settle the Negev, see the David Ben-Gurion Heritage Center, and be treated to home hospitality by Israelis from different ethnic groups.
Finally, the mission will also spend time in the Partnership2Gether region, the Sovev Kinneret (around Lake Kinneret) that the Milwaukee Jewish community shares with the Jewish community of Tulsa, Okla.
In fact, this mission is being coordinated with a mission from Tulsa, and participants in both will be able to spend some time together in the region. Among other things, they will “shuk and cook” with Israeli Chef Ilan Roberg.
The mission will conclude in Jerusalem. There, among other activities, participants will learn about the Hatav Hachevrati project that seeks to encourage Israeli restaurants to follow ethical business practices while teaching consumers that they have the power to affect society.
Tour costs include air and bus transportation; accommodations for eight nights; all hotel service charges and taxes; and all entrance fees. All meals included in the mission price will be kosher.
For more information about the mission, including prices and a complete itinerary, contact Peled, email@example.com or 414-390-5705.