Finding Connection

Feeling spiritually connected can be a difficult feat to achieve. Our busy lives, filled with family and work obligations, are constantly pulling us towards the mundane. Traveling to Israel can create the perfect opportunity for developing more of an awareness of our spiritual side, by visiting places that inspire us to focus on the core values of our Jewish beliefs (family, Torah, the Jewish people, charity, kindness, etc.).

One of the most unique things Israel has to offer, more so than a trip to a random vacation spot, is that God’s presence is very strong here. When we learn to tune in to this, it elevates even the most mundane items on our to-do lists, making our lives more meaningful long after our vacation is over and we’ve returned home.

Browse below for some of the spiritual highlights a trip to Israel might include.

Getting High in the Holy Land

If you’d like to travel back in time, this is a great place to start. So much of the Jewish Quarter helps us imaging what life was like when this was the core of Jerusalem.

The rebuilt Jewish Quarter is a magnet for tourist from all over the world. Here we can discover the historical Jerusalem of times gone by. We’ll visit ruins from the biblical period as well as a full “neighborhood” from the second temple period that was excavated and can be explored right below the modern city streets.

Hover for Fun Fact: How did we excavate all of these sites under these modern buildings?

This is the last standing remnant of our holy temple. Also known as the Kotel or the Wailing Wall, the Wall has become the focus of prayer for the Jewish people for the last 2,000 years.

Our visit here will include time to pray and reflect, incorporating the site’s significance and meaning. Visitors from all over the world place their personal prayers, in the form of a written note, in the cracks of the Kotel. Whether your prayer is spoken, sung, thought or written, a visit to the Kotel will have lasting effects.

For tips on visiting the Kotel with children, check out the The Western Wall blog post.

This modern underground tunnel follows the Western Wall from the Kotel plaza out to the Arab quarter at the end of the Temple mount. It will get us closer than we could have imagined to the Holy of Holies, where our prayers ascend and from which all spirituality enters the physical world.

About half way through the tunnel we can pause, reflect and pray, knowing that we are directly opposite the inner most chamber of the Beis HaMikdash (the Jewish Temple), where only the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) entered once a year on Yom Kippur.

This is a wonderful place to focus our inner most thoughts on God’s greatness, our gratitude and to make requests for what we need in order to achieve our mission in life.

If you want to have the full Israel spiritual experience, you must spend a Shabbos in Jerusalem. First stop is Friday night services at the Kotel (Western Wall). We’ll join a Carlebach minyan and dance as the sun sets and the warmth of Shabbos fills the air. A short walk to our hotel, group meal or family hospitality, and we can enjoy an evening meal highlighted by traditional Jewish foods, intellectual discussions and spirited singing.

Shabbos day is tranquil, as the streets are quiet. Buses don’t run, businesses close and their is an air of kedusha (holiness) that helps us understand why Jerusalem is the center of the world.

We will say farewell to Shabbat (Havdallah) with a rooftop kumzits (come sit) overlooking the kotel, with live Jewish music and maleve malka (meal after Shabbat).

For hundreds of years, when the city of Jerusalem was off limits to Jews, we would come here to the Mount of Olives to gaze at our holy city from afar. Overlooking Jerusalem, we have a distinct view of the Temple Mount to the west and the desert expanse to the east. Kings, poets and prophets have sought to combine the meditations of the desert with the inspiration of Jerusalem.

Judiaism has its own rich traditions of mysticism and spirituality known as the Kabbalah, and no city is more closely associated with these traditions than Tzfas. It was here that the Ari HaKodesh (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) revealed his mystical system to his students.

We’ll walk in his footsteps through the cobblestone alleyways, visit the synagogues where he prayed, experience the views that inspired him, and peek into his esoteric teachings.