PHOTO: PDX→Israel 2020 Co-chairs Priscilla Kostiner, Michael Weiner, Tony Kostiner and Kathy Davis-Weiner toured Israel in March hunting for exciting experiences and spectacular sights to share with some 500 participants who they hope will join them for the trip of the century in March 2020.
Kathy Davis-Weiner, Michael Weiner, and Priscilla and Tony Kostiner co-chaired the 2008 Portland Community Mission to Israel. They had so much fun that they returned to Israel last spring to hunt out some special places to take family and friends – about 500 of them.
The two couples are co-chairing PDX→Israel 2020 (see below), the kickoff event to a year of celebrating the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland’s centennial year. To help reduce the financial barriers for their current and future friends, the co-chairs and federation have raised substantial funds to subsidize the cost of the trip. Early bird land pricing for adults, teens and youth is available through Nov. 15.
To ensure PDX→Israel is family friendly, the trip overlaps the Oregon school spring break, and the co-chairs are working with Kenes Tours to have family friendly content and youth counselors.
“We look forward to sharing the great excitement of celebrating the federation’s centennial with family and friends, making this the trip of the century,” according to Priscilla and Tony in a joint email. The two add they plan to bring their children and grandchildren on this community trip.
“Michael and I are talking about bringing family members, even though our children have all experienced Israel on their own,” says Kathy. “This trip is an exciting opportunity for parents to bring children and grandchildren, and any other family member 5 years and older. We purposefully timed it over spring break to allow for minimal school disruptions, and the generous sponsorships have made this trip extraordinarily affordable. Special arrangements are being made for children’s activities. There is no better way to further the generational love and respect for Israel than to experience it with a family member.”
Though all four have been to Israel multiple times – Priscilla taking top honors with 40 trips – they each discovered new places and experiences on their planning trip.
“In the few years since the 2008 mission, there is an amazing amount of new Israel to be explored,” says Michael, mentioning high-tech, archeological, educational and agricultural sites that reflect Israel’s prowess in those areas.
Kathy says her favorite new site was the Innovation Center in Tel Aviv: “One thousand new innovations occur within a 6-mile radius of this center. Examples of some of the innovations are demonstrated at this center, from medical technology to environmental and much more. I could have stayed there all day – it was so fascinating and impactful.”
Tony and Priscilla also enjoyed the State of Mind Israel Innovative Center, calling it a “Start Up Nation” museum.
New cultural highlights the Kostiners enjoyed include a Graffiti Tour in Tel Aviv, the Sound and Light Show at Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem and great wine tasting at the Pelter Winery in the North.
Priscilla was also taken with a hike along the Burma Road, focusing on some of the more challenging aspects of Israel’s complex creation and the effects on the outcome of the 1948 War of Independence.
Of that hike, Michael says, “As a history buff, I was enthralled to be led through the Burma Road – the backroad link to Jerusalem used by Israeli troops to liberate the city in 1948. The detailed explanations brought this historical site to dramatic life.”
In addition to the new experiences the two couples discovered, they also revisited old favorites.
“There are many other opportunities for visits and hands-on experiences, most of which we’ve done before, but for most of the mission participants, these will be ‘new,’ ” says Priscilla.
Even for repeat visitors, returning to visit a familiar place offers the opportunity for a different perspective.
“I have been to Israel many times, but in an interesting way, every time is like the first time,” Michael says. “There is so much to see, so many new places, so many new interpretations of old places, that I cannot wait to go again. I can see Masada for the seventh, or 10th, time and still learn something about the history or the geography; … I can go to Ceasarea and see it as a Roman ruin or now as a scuba opportunity. I can go to the Golan Heights and overlook the Syrian border and put the current tragedy into new perspective.”
Priscilla and Tony say they look forward to helping first-timers find “a sense of ownership and relationship that cannot be experienced elsewhere.”
“Participating on a community mission helps build relationships and connections as we strengthen community ties,” says Priscilla.
Kathy adds, “I want Portland Jews to see and understand the remarkable journey, the history, from a Middle Eastern desert to the thriving modern country it is today.” She also wants to help first-time visitors understand Israel’s historical struggles as well as its current ones.
Michael adds, “Community is the key to this trip. A community trip to Israel will, I am certain, cement the bonds between Portland and Israel, while at the same time strengthening the bonds within the Jewish community in Portland.”
Part of the community-building experience will involve visits to some of the projects funded by Portland campaign dollars sent to Israel to improve the lives of everyday Israelis.
“We went to explore special experiences for the 2020 trip, and I can guarantee an exciting experience,” promises Michael.
Tony and Priscilla echo that pledge: “We’re planning an extraordinary experience, and we want you to come with us. Don’t miss it.”
WHAT: Community trip to Israel
WHEN: March 18-29, 2020
EARLY BIRD COST (land only): Adults/$2,500, Teens (14-18)/$2,000; Youth (5-13)/$1,800
INCLUDED: Deluxe accommodations; Shabbat experiences in both Tel Aviv & Jerusalem; family friendly (children ages 5 and up) and multi-generational.
OPTIONS: Multiple interest tracks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem; choice of days in north or south; opportunities for bar/bat mitzvah celebrations for people of all ages.
CONTACT: pdxisrael.org | firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-245-6219
Centennial Trip to Israel Information Sessions
In private homes for Oct. 4 (SW Portland) and Oct. 29 (NW Portland) at 7:30 pm.
This is an opportunity to learn more about the trip and for us to answer any questions you may have.
Please RSVP (required) to either information session (let us know which you will be attending) by clicking here and for the location address for the meeting.