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Written by Uri Feinberg, HMI Tour Educator

In 2015, I was asked to guide one of the first two Honeymoon Israel (HMI) trips. When this first group of couples entered the arrivals hall at the airport, luggage in hand, or rather, hand in hand, it was me who fell in love. OK, OK, too much (and my kids are rolling their eyes somewhere, and they aren’t sure why). But I did notice that everyone on the bus was truly and completely in love with their partner, excited about the journey ahead, and anxious about what was about to unfold. As we pulled away from the airport, little did I know how taken I would become. During my years guiding HMI groups, I have been blessed to experience the intersection of discovery, joy, question, and thanks. Personal reflection, shared conversation, and group bonding would evolve amidst a sunrise climb, a Western Wall visit, a sip of Golan wine, and a Tel Aviv vibe.

Almost three years ago, COVID-19 brought all of this to a halt, and I realized that what made the loss even more intense was that I had been given the gift to partake in this process and was pained when it was no longer possible. Thankfully, I was able to re-harness what it is that I do and shift to teaching and guiding virtually. What was even more powerful, however, was to watch how each of the HMI communities were able to find each other in some way. The bonds that were formed in Israel evolved into communal living organisms, with their own ebbs and flows, allowing for the embodiment of everything HMI knew a trip like this to Israel could become.

But that was then. This is now. And we are back! Once life began to materialize into its current shade of normal, way back in February 2022, I returned to guiding in the field. While there was still muscle memory after two years, it was clear that those educational muscles needed to be stretched and flexed. It has been wonderful engaging with HMI groups again in the field. I even had the pleasure of recently guiding a wonderful HMI alum couple, their two children (who weren’t around 5 years ago when they came on HMI), their siblings, nieces, nephews, parents, and in-laws. Sharing the power of the Land, the wonder of the State, the colors of the People, and the complexity of reality has allowed me once again to use Israel as a broad platform on which to ask what all this means to us.

On the home front, our 15-year-old is now a tenth grader and dancing her heart out, our 19-year-old is in the thick of her military service as a combat soldier in the Iron Dome unit, and our 22-year-old is off on her own (and yet very communally Israeli) six-month ‘walkabout,’ stretching her own post-army legs, trekking through South America (and I was even lucky enough to join her for 10 days in the Andes mountains). Oh, and I celebrated 25 years of wonderful marriage to my wife, Meryl. Life is good. I miss you all and look forward to reconnecting with those I have shared Israel with and meeting those who are on their way.