Thanks for sharing Masada memories

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Let us be the first to say it. We're proud. We may not be the biggest Jewish community in the country but we still have big shoes to fill.

Maybe that's why the Jewish Federation of the Greater East Bay and the Koret Foundation struck the cutting edge of high tech when they pulled off a live Internet Webcast of 151 East Bay youths from atop Israel's Masada.

More than 250 family members watched the event on big screens in Oakland as their teens reveled from the top of the rhomboid rock.

The kids had just climbed it.

Many of us remember the same thrill. We surveyed the breathtaking desert that sweeps below Masada and reflected on what life might have been like for the Jews trapped there centuries ago.

But few parents, when they send their teenagers on an Israel trip, get more than a postcard or phone call once the kids land. Parents hear the "I did" and "then I went," but like the teens pondering the trapped zealots, they can only imagine.

Last week, more than 200 parents got the chance to be with their children for those first magic moments on the rock, just as millions of Americans watched astronaut Neil Armstrong take his "one small step."

The Koret Foundation and the federation were truly visionary in Webcasting one of their most valuable contributions to the Jewish community — Israel youth trips.

Hats off also to the World Zionist Organization and others who helped to finance the feat, as well as to Israeli communications experts who volunteered technical services.

As in the Bay Area, high tech in Israel also has grown up. It wasn't long ago that the best connection to the Holy Land was a satellite-delayed phone call. Today, two out of every three Israelis on the street carry a cellphone.

Modern communications now are for everybody. Mountaintop Webcasts may not be in every Jew's future but last week's taste of tomorrow gave East Bay parents a simultaneous glimpse of both today and the past.