Rabbi Marko gets ready for a second honeymoon...
No, not with Marie! Rabbi Marko will leave on Thursday, December 1st to lead a group from San Diego on a Honeymoon Israel Trip! We're so happy that he was asked to participate in this opportunity helping to create connections for these young couples between themselves, Israel, and the Jewish community. Take a moment and read his note below.
December 1, 2022
Some of you may already know, but I wanted to make sure that everyone knows I will be in Israel for the next couple of weeks. I am honored to be helping lead a group tour for Honeymoon Israel. Honeymoon Israel’s mission is to provide immersive trips to Israel for locally based cohorts of couples that have at least one Jewish partner, early in their committed relationship, creating communities of couples who are building families with deep and meaningful connections to Jewish life and the Jewish people.
The goal is to make young couples of all backgrounds feel welcome in the Jewish community and to inspire them to incorporate Jewish values and traditions into their lives in their own way.
And so I am privileged to be the rabbinic/spiritual leader for this year’s San Diego cohort of 20 wonderful couples.
For our Tifereth Israel community, I want you to all rest assured that I have secured coverage for all services and activities. As you know, we have a robust staff and a talented and committed group of lay leaders. I encourage you all to attend services to support your lay leaders and to ensure we always have a minyan. Additionally, I’ve spoken with three fine local rabbis who are standing by, if needed, for any pastoral emergencies.
Following the actual Honeymoon Israel tour, I will be remaining in Israel for an additional 5 days to do some personal exploration, study, and yes, a bit of kicking back as well. And no trip to Jerusalem would be complete without getting together with our dear friend Cantor Hanan!!!
I will periodically be sending “E-Postcards” to share with you all.
I wish you all a wonderful December. I’ll be thinking of you and will be back in just a couple of weeks.
December 2, 2022
Shabbat Shalom from beautiful Tel Aviv.
With the help of God we arrived safely. And an even greater miracle is all of our bags made it too. As always I literally burst into tears the moment the plane hits the tarmac and I know I am home in the greatest sense of the word.
These 20 amazing couples are giddy with excitement. For many it's their first time. For others it has been several years since they've visited Israel.
The sun is about to set over the beautiful Mediterranean and we are going to walk right across the street to have a lovely Kabbalat Shabbat right on the beach.
May your Shabbat be peaceful, meaningful, and reJEWvenating.
See you soon.
December 9, 2022
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem,
Israeli singer songwriter Naomi Shemer expresses possibly the very core of Jewish existence - and more broadly, life itself.
על הכל אלה, על כול אלה
שמור נא לי אלי הטוב
על הדבש ועל העורץ
על המר והמתוק
Over all these things, over all these things,
Please guard for me, my good God.
Over the honey and the (bee) sting,
Over the bitter and the sweet.
Yesterday our Honeymoon Israel itinerary took us to the extremes. We spent the first half of the day experiencing Yad V'Shem, Israel's archives and memorial museum of the Shoah (Holocaust). As you might imagine, emotions ran strongly. I witnessed reactions that ran the gamut. Jewish members of our group viscerally connected to what is truly a personal national tragedy - some sharing stories of family lost, members who survived, and the various ways in which the reality of the Shoah was presented to them as children and adults. Some of those in our group are non-Jewish spouses who may have learned factually about the Shoah, but now experienced it in a more personal way vis-à-vis their loved ones who would have been directly targeted and likely ripped from their lives.
This emotional deep-dive culminated as we all walked through the memorial to the 1.5 million children murdered by the Nazis, leaving some in stunned silence, and others bitterly weeping.
We spent some time after in conversation, sharing our thoughts, and unpacking our feelings. But as we were on a timeline, the next stop in our journey swiftly brought us to the bustling Machaneh Yehudah market. From the ashes of the Shoah, we plunged into the vibrant, joyful, and even frenetic life of a living, breathing people. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes delighted us and filled our souls with gladness and gratitude.
And yet I felt as though I needed to give my beloved group permission to take in all that joy. Yes, we remember and hold onto our memories of the past, even something as unthinkable as the Shoah. But we also honor the memory of those lost by continuing to live life to the fullest, drinking up all it has to offer.
As I mentioned, this day was one that took us to extremes. And it is a powerful lesson for life in general that has subtle and significant ebbs and flows.
And today, I'm writing this note on the bus as we drive down to Masada, another site and symbol of Jewish oppression and loss. But I know this afternoon we'll be עולים/going up to Jerusalem to spend a sweet, restful, and meaningful Shabbat in the living, breathing, eternal capital of the Jewish people.
As Naomi Shemer teaches us, the honey and the sting, the bitter and the sweet...these are both parts of life. We endure the hard times by holding onto what is good, and we can embrace the good times more fully by remembering it has not always been, and may not always be so.
עם ישראל חי
The Jewish People lives.
See you soon.