E.Bay Israel trip still on 9 teens scheduled to go

As of now, 9 teens are scheduled to go to Israel this summer with the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay.

Of course that could change, depending on how long the war on Iraq lasts and whether Israel is drawn into it.

But even if that happens, federation staffers are taking a wait-and-see approach.

"Nobody knows what will happen, but we're not calling it off," said Talia Leibler-Gabay, director of Israel trips at the federation. "For now, we are going. That's our slogan."

The four-week trip, which is scheduled to leave June 25 and return July 23, includes many of the highlights of previous trips, like visits to Masada, Eilat and the Dead Sea and a kibbutz stay. What's missing, however, is all the big cities. The teens won't be praying at the Western Wall or eating falafel on Dizengoff, as they will skip Jerusalem and Tel Aviv altogether.

"It seems a lot safer this way and parents are more comfortable that way as well," said Liebler-Gabay.

The teens will spend two weeks in the north and two weeks in the south, traveling between the two regions by a domestic flight.

While the trip has been a hard sell for Leibler-Gabay to make, some parents do trust that their kids will be well taken care of.

Ferne Nemenyi of Walnut Creek is allowing her 15-year-old daughter Rachel Shiozaki to go. Shiozaki is the only one from her class at Temple Isaiah in Lafayette who has signed up.

Shiozaki said her friends' reactions are mixed. "My closest friends, who are also active temple members, are jealous of me because their parents won't let them go even though they really want to," she said. "And I have other friends who…are a little more skeptical."

Nemenyi said she feels all possible measures will be taken to ensure a safe trip.

Shiozaki said since the war in Iraq began she's gotten a little nervous, but believes she'll be safe on the trip. "Overall, I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to go to Israel, and I know that if I go I will have a wonderful and powerful experience."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."