Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hope & Healing

Today was definitely the shot in the arm each of us needed after yesterday. It was like a straight-up "hope" cocktail, served with a side of calm.

We started our morning at Givat Haviva ( a place I had never heard of before today but can guarantee will be gaining great traction in the coming months. Givat Haviva was this calm, tranquil, kibbutz-like center near Hadera in the north. One of those places where you pull into the driveway and feel your entire body relax. (Sort of like how I get when I arrive at a spa)

Givat Haviva, as you can read for yourself on the website above, is an extraordinary model for what can be achieved not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world. The place has a storied and tumultuous history; one that reflects the trends and movement of Israeli society, particularly over the last twenty or so years. The center has been around for decades, was filled to the brim during the "golden years" of Yitzhak Rabin, was a ghost town during the Second Intifada, nearly folded and had to be totally restructured in the late 2000s, and is now undergoing not-quite-as-agressive-as-Rawabi-but-still-impressive development under the new management of Yaniv Sagee.

The center offers various programs for children and adults that focus on one core thing. One might see it as incredibly simple but it is actually tremendously complex: relationships. The center focuses on face-to-face interactions between Arabs and Israelis, conversation and dialogue, shared experiences, and collective action. It reminds me greatly of the NewGround model ( and not only touches but grasps hold of many of the concepts I'm reading about in Ron Wolfson's incredibly popular (amongst Jewish processionals) book, Relational Judaism. 

We learn over and over how it's all about relationships. And yet, here is this grassroots organization working overtime to bring together neighboring towns, teenagers from Arab and Israeli schools, and parents of children to teach them how to see one another as human. It's so fundamental and yet so complicated. But it's so deeply necessary. It was inspiring to hear the facilitators and director, Yaniv, talk about the teens whose lives they have touched, their goals for the future (watch the video on the website; it can capture these ideas much better than I) and personally, it was so exciting to think about what is possible and achievable here in this country. 

Following Givat Haviva we had lunch and explored the Arab town of Bartha with its former mayor (who also works at Givat Haviva), Riad Kaba. He took us on a tour of the city, unique for two reasons. First, it is split down the middle by the Green Line. Half of it is technically "in Israel" and half of it is technically in the West Bank. It's a complicated place for many reasons and truly representative of one of many levels of fragmentation in the country. But its citizens are hopeful about what can be achieved. 

It wasn't explicitly said, but I do think that its proximity to Givat Haviva and its unique location in the center / north of Israel provides it with opportunities to really be at the forefront of this complicated situation. What that means, I'm not quite sure. But again, as this trip has demonstrated over and over, it was so important to be there and see it with my own eyes; to meet the people who are there and doing this and getting up every morning trying to make things better than they were the day before. I admire their dedication and determination so much. My admiration for nearly all the people we're meeting is through the roof. 

The day concluded with a gala dinner at Noa Bistro with all of us trip participants and major players and Members of Knesset from the Meretz party. Aside from it being really exciting to have dinner with some amazing people heavily involved in Israeli politics, it was really nice to just put on some nice clothes and makeup and have a nice night out. The past few days have been so intense. We've been moving at a breakneck pace, seeing some really dark and upsetting things, getting more frequent feelings of despair than of hope and excitement. So to go out to a hot restaurant in Jaffa with a bunch of cool people, take selfies, and have a few glasses of wine was really necessary. 

I want to end with a few trends I've noticed over the past few days: 

1) Nearly everyone we've spoken to has referred in some way to Yitzhak Rabin. People look back on his time as Prime Minister with such fondness and hope. On the right and left, in Israel and in the West Bank, people have the greatest respect for this man who saw everyone - Jew, Muslim, Christian, atheist - as a human being and believed deeply in the potential for peace. 

2) People are very impressed with John Kerry's commitment to the Middle East. They are also surprised. Time after time, meeting after meeting, people describe how genuinely determined he is to broker some sort of peace deal between Israel and Palestine and how meaningful that is to them. So, way to go John Kerry. Quitting my job in the summer of 2004 to get him elected as president might not have worked out, but I'd like to think it played at least some role in getting him to his current position of Secretary of State. Right? Right. 

Finally, I'm still thinking a lot about the pursuit of justice and what it actually means to do so. What if "justice" means one thing to one person and a completely separate thing to someone else? (Typically, it does) Whose "justice" wins out over the other? What's the morality or ethical boundary of pursuing a more just community / society / world? Things to ponder. 

Laila tov. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A difficult day

Hi, everyone. First - I want to respond to a few of the comments I've received before telling you about today's activities in the Negev. I'm so glad to hear you're reading and that it's provoking thoughts, responses, and further questions.

I want to address the idea of transparency and the sharing of information. I want to clarify that there are certain things I cannot or do not want to share in a public forum. I don't want to be so bold as to say that my blog is the hottest show in town (rest assured, it's not) but then again, I have no idea who is really reading it. That's the blessing and curse of choosing to let your own private thoughts and ideas roll out of your head and onto the internet. This is my first time participating in a trip like this and for a variety of reasons I have chosen not to share every detail of this adventure. (So, think of it this way: maybe it's an opening to talk in person upon my return!)

Second, I want to address Rawabi. (Figured out the hyperlink thing - Someone posited that the city of Rawabi is a PR effort influenced by Israelis to quell the concern over human rights violations in Palestine. After reflecting and discussing it with several other trip participants, here's what I've concluded: does it matter? Does having the "right" answer to that take away from the fact that there are human beings living in Palestine who deserve to develop their land the way they see fit? Would it take away from the fact that there are engineers, investors, architects, city planners, and a barrage of highly educated people living in the West Bank who have chosen - influenced by who knows what? - to build this truly impressive project?

The reality with Rawabi is this: anyone can look at it any way they want to. That's the beauty of ideas and opinions. Here are mine: Rawabi is a really aggressive, intentional, and brilliant marketing campaign that went so far as to place promotional folders - including swag - on each seat in our minibus so we had souvenirs when we concluded our visit. I mean, that's savvy. That's legit.

One of the things I didn't write yesterday was how Rawabi's developers sought advice from world-renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, touring the Israeli town of Modi'in with him and surveying his extraordinary Mamilla Mall for inspiration. I did add that there are plans to create a collaborative industrial park for Israelis and Palestinians. I could say a whole lot more, and I'm sure someone could refute it all, but this was my experience, and I am hopeful and excited about the development's impact on the greater community.

Okay... so now let's talk about today. 

Today was immensely difficult. First we toured a variety of Bedouin villages in the Negev that fall somewhere on a spectrum of "recognized by the Israeli government" and "not recognized by the Israeli government." And it was heartbreaking. It was really, truly devastating. One of the places we visited was a village called Wadi Alinam about 3 miles south of Be'er Sheva. And to tell you that it felt like stepping into a New-Orleans-one-day-after-Katrina-war-zone-scene would probably be accurate. But, I wasn't in New Orleans the day after Katrina so I can't speak to it. I can only hypothesize.

It was total poverty; total disconnection from the outside world. I would imagine anyone with any ounce of empathy in their soul would have probably felt like crap being there. I cried a lot. I could not take my eyes of a three-year-old boy with snot running out his nose who I kept waving at but would not smile. He was bow-legged, it was challenging for him to walk, and he had the saddest brown eyes. And maybe he was there to pull at my heartstrings, or maybe he was there to rack up donations... but ... truly? I think he was there because he literally had nowhere else to be but with his parent who was there to thank the Americans for visiting and showing their support. 

So, that was tough. 

Our tour guide was a man named Dr. Thabet Abu Rass who works for an organization called Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He reminded me of my very dear friend Jordan, a woman who has worked on behalf of the underserved and underprivileged all her life, constantly fighting an uphill battle chained to bureaucracy and ignorance the whole way. It was just really, really hard to listen to him tell his story and what he tries to do through this organization. It felt much more hopeless and bleak than, say, the bustling developments of Ramallah and Rawabi from yesterday. 

We came back from the Negev after visiting the women's NGO Lakiya - an organization that has spearheaded the advancement of women in the Bedouin villages of the Negev for the past several years - to listen to a panel of representatives from various human rights organizations in Israel: ACRI ( the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Gisha ( - the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, primarily focused in Gaza, and B'tzelem, ( the Israeli Center for Information on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Each representative shared a little bit about themselves and then a small snapshot (mostly bleak, but with some small degree of hope) onto the future they see. To offer one quote from that panel that I think encompasses the general gist of all that was offered: "There is a deep and real tension between the security people want and the human rights that all should be afforded... people are deeply afraid and believe that you can only have one or the other." (paraphrased)

Therein lies both the impetus for Partners for Progressive Israel creating this trip and the general outlook that seems to prevail in many of the discussions. It's depressing, but it's the sad truth.

Yes, Israel is no different from any other flawed country run by human beings with different objectives - some good, some not-so-good. Yes, we live in a time and an era that is so tinged by apathy, anger, and mistrust. Yes, I want to bang my fists on the table and cry because today was really upsetting and I wish I could have just buried my feet in the sand at the beach with a copy of "Us Weekly." But that's not why they sent me here. 

These are the complexities of the world we live in, and of this country that so many of us love and respect and hold close to our hearts. There are things that we cannot begin to comprehend and there are things that smack us directly in the face when we confront them - and they get inside us and make us angry, make us feel helpless, and either push us to act or get us to turn a blind eye. 

Sigh. Big sigh. Not so simple. 

I'm going to spend some time these next few days thinking about what it really means to pursue justice - tzedek tzedek tirdof - and to shape a life in step with our imperative for tikkun olam. Not only as a future rabbi, but as a person. As a compassionate and (typically) level-headed human being. Any advice on doing that? I'd love to hear it. 

Until tomorrow, lots of love from TLV.

Oh - and PS? No way I'm running for public office. I'm leaving that up to my incredible and highly capable husband


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Day in the West Bank

Okay first of all - please read the post below titled "Days One and Two" before you read this one. Please? Ok. Thanks!

Back? Great. Here we go ...


Today was a day I will never forget.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that interfaith relations/dialogue/learning has been my "thing" for a really long time. I majored in Religious Studies in college, I've participated in interfaith activities and events regularly throughout the last ten or so years, I wrote my curriculum guide for the Ed Year on Jewish identity formation through interfaith learning, and I was a NewGround Muslim/Jewish Partnership for Change Fellow this past year.

I have always believed, even when I wasn't able to articulate it, that engagement with "the other" (which I now define as, someone who does not share the same historical/cultural/religious identification as you) is a hugely powerful, significant experience. I have learned who I am as a Jewish woman largely through exchanges with those who do not identify as Jewish.

So, knowing all this, it might come as a surprise that I never wanted to visit the West Bank when I lived in Israel. Well, I was scared. I wasn't interested in putting myself in danger. Ramallah in particular sounded like a terrifying, disorganized, underdeveloped place. We were discouraged from going, which in hindsight I totally understand. That year our school did everything within its power to return us home safely. (Memories of students surviving the Second Intifada were strong)

Well I'm a few years older now, and maybe I'm less inhibited, or just plain curious. When I heard we were going to Ramallah I was excited. I had a feeling it was going to be ... I don't know. Cool? Exotic maybe? I thought hey, I'm going to be able to go back to California and tell my NewGround buddies that I went to Ramallah and said "shukran" (thank you) to everyone I saw. Again, I figured that the people we were going with would do everything within their power to return us home safely.

What I wasn't prepared for at all was how much it would move me. Not only the city of Ramallah or the absolutely extraordinary achievement that is the city of Rawabi, which you should Google immediately (and I'd provide a hyperlink if I could) but ... the people. The stories they told. The sprawling development of the cities. The incredible graciousness with which people welcomed us. Their desire to make us comfortable. Their creativity, innovation, and drive. Their hopes and dreams. Their humanity. It moved me to tears.

The most memorable and emotional part of today was sitting down for an hour and a half with Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh. Now, if you Google Dr. Shtayyeh you will find that he is one of the two Palestinian representatives involved in the current negotiations between Israel and Palestine. He and his partner Saeb Erekat have the expectations of the entire Arab world on their shoulders right now. Needless to say, I was a little surprised that he met with our group.

But there he was, talking with us, being one part charismatic politician and one part human being, one part father, brother, & friend, and one part pragmatic and honest and hopeful optimist. Hearing his hopes and frank (and, frankly, relatable) expectations and goals for the process toward a two-state solution was ... I mean, how do you even blog about that ... ? How can I even put it into words?  I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in his presence and to add his pieces to my continuously evolving narrative of Israel. It was a gift, even if I didn't agree with every single thing he said.

And yes, of course what he said was skewed. Of course it was loaded. But I can say the same exact thing for the people we met with at Knesset one day before. I can say it about any of us. We see our lives through the prism of that which we want to believe. Our truths are our own. And it became very clear to me after talking with him that in order for people to really, truly form an opinion on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, they need to actually see both places with their own eyes. In order to understand, we must first seek to be understood. And that means bearing witness to it all with our own set of eyes.

Rawabi was ... I mean, it was amazing. It's a planned city that's an investment by the billionaire Bashar Masri, whom we met. It's a commercial and housing development that is neither religious nor secular. The first buildings they built are schools. They've provided the local economy with thousands of jobs. There will be a church and a mosque. There's an industrial center for collaborative projects between Israelis and Palestinians. A third of their workforce are women. And the woman who gave us the tour was a carbon copy of Rumaisa, my friend from NewGround: energetic, brilliant, passionate, and just delightful. The best part of Rawabi? Aside from the fact that it was stunningly beautiful it was also a tremendous symbol: innovative, creative, entrepreneurial, and bold. I feel honored to have seen it going up.

There was a whole lot more that happened today, but I really want this blog post to be about this. I want those reading to know and understand that I love Israel with all my heart and soul and believe a two-state solution is the only true, real, and achievable path to peace. I know that the world is not simple and there is bloodshed, mistrust, lies, and deceit on both sides. But there is also hope, and collaboration, and friendship, and some degree of trust, too. And I hope that this trip and my blogging and my voice can contribute in some small way to that second part; to a world that is capable of seeing peace in our lifetime: peace between two peoples who are not perfect but who can achieve great things alongside one another.

Well, I finished my wine and we moved on to a jazz rendition of one of my favorite songs ever, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." I'd say it's time to call it a night.

Please, comment. Ask questions. Push and challenge. Let me know you're listening. And I hope you are.

Tomorrow is another day and another story. I look forward to telling it to you.

With love,

Days One and Two


I never got along well with Israeli internet when I lived here, so it should come as a surprise to no one (least of all to me) that I have had nothing but trouble with WiFi for the past three days.

I apologize to anyone who felt truly bereft by my silence. Rest assured, I have been plotting blog posts in my head (I even wrote an entire one only to have it disappear before my very eyes!) and now will be that moment when I spill all of it out because the past three days have been so unbelievably intense and it needs to be shared.

I truly don't know how to process all that I've seen and heard and witnessed since Saturday night when this program began. I really don't. Today we spent the day in the West Bank and that gets its own post. Anyway, it's 10pm, we got back to Tel Aviv about an hour ago, and I have planted myself at a coffee shop near the Mediterranean with a glass of wine, an iPad, and the program's itinerary to actually remember what we've done the past three days. 

Here's the scoop:

Saturday Night 
Dinner with former MK (Member of Knesset) Naomi Chazan 

Sunday - Tel Aviv 
Dror Marag, Secretary General of Meretz 
Zehava Gal-On, Knesset Chairwoman of Meretz 
Aluf Benn, Editor-in-Chief of Ha'aretz
Gadi Baltiansky, Director-General of the Geneva Initiative 
Michal Rozin, MK-Meretz 
Tamar Zandberg, MK-Meretz 
Akiva Eldar, writer and columnist 
Dr. Gershon Baskin, Founder of Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) ... also, it's worth noting that he was a key negotiator in the Gilad Shalit deal 
Beyond Words - a theater performance featuring Arab and Israeli women together  
Hang-time with Elana Resnick (who took me to an outstanding gluten-free market so that I could enjoy hummus with pita like a regular human being) 

Monday - Jerusalem 
Tour of East Jerusalem with Daniel Seidemann, founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem 
(Then we spent the day at Knesset, in suits) 
Issawi Frej,MK-Meretz and the only Palestinian Israeli in an Israeli party in Knesset (also, worth noting, a CPA) 
Mikhael Manekin, Director of Policy and Communications for Molad (a progressive think tank) 
Yuli Edelstein, Speaker of Knesset 
Dov Khenin, MK-Chadash 
Isaac Herzog, MK-Labor 
Erel Margalit, MK-Labor and founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners 
Moshe Ya'alon, Minister of Defense (seriously) 
Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet 


Why am I sharing all this with you? Why does this matter? 

Well, I think of each of these meetings as a story, and I'm a storyteller. My whole life is devoted to telling the stories of the Jewish people. My career will, God willing, be devoted to listening to people's stories.

Israel's narrative is one story that we tell to one another over and over. It's a story that we add to and embellish and question and sometimes really, truly have a hard time telling. But it belongs to us, and as I alluded to in an earlier post I am here to add another layer to that unfolding story. 

Each of these meetings was significant, informative, at times hard to listen to, and overall thought-provoking. Everyone had something to say about the tension in the Middle East, the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, and their dreams and fears for the future. It was a multilayered story of hope, disappointment, mistrust, encouragement, questions and commitments. Really, it was amazing.

You who are reading this right now should absolutely look up Terrestrial Jerusalem. You should become acquainted with Erel Margalit and his work with innovation and entrepreneurship. And you should most definitely see "The Gatekeepers," a provocative film that I myself haven't even seen, but in which Avi Dichter plays a role. (So yes, Josh. Let's try to find it on Netflix)

All that we heard Sunday and Monday challenged me, moved me, and got me to think a little bit differently about the domestic fragmentation of Israel and its relationship to Palestine. And it certainly launched me into our visit to the West Bank, which I will certainly never forget. 

Thanks for reading. A jazz version of "Do You Think I'm Sexy" is playing in this little coffee shop right now and I feel like that's something you should know. 

With love,

Saturday, October 26, 2013

So ... WHAT exactly am I doing here?

Before I left several people asked me, "what exactly is this trip you're going on?" And I didn't give them a really concrete answer, not because I was avoiding the question but because I myself wasn't totally sure.

I knew that I was going to Israel with an organization that swang (is that a word? I hope so. I like it bettter than "swung") to the left; that I would be meeting with MKs (members of Knesset), political and cultural figures, activists, and heavily involved members/supporters of the politial party Meretz. I knew we'd be discussing the Arab/Israeli conflict. I knew where we were staying and had a rough idea of the itinerary. I knew it included a visit to Ramallah, in the West Bank. I knew this was all possible through my rabbinic internship at KI.

Other than that, I didn't know much else. I figured that was enough.

Tonight the Symposium began by the fifteen or so participants and three staff members sitting down with Naomi Chazan, a former member of Knesset who served at one point as its deputy speaker. She's done a whole lot of important things in addition to that role, such as being on the board of the New Israel Fund, serving as Dean of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv Yaffo and Director of the Center for the Advancement of Women in the Public Sphere at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. (She's smart. Incredibly smart)

She had a lot to say about modern Israeli society, politics, the most recent mulnicipal elections, the growing inequality between the "haves" and "have nots" in Israel (according to her, Israel is no. 2 in that discrepancy, second only to my home country, the US) and the Obama administration's very clear and public commitment to supporting Israel and helping her and her neighbors reach peace.

It was an intense talk followed by intense questions, and it was during this whole presentation when it really crystallized for me why I'm here.

First, I'm the youngest participant. By far. I represent a demographic that is so deeply, painfully removed from the 55+ers on this trip. I represent a generation that's at times apathetic, at times deeply confused, perplexed, and torn about Israel, and at times really does care about the Middle East and its political/socioeconomic/global future. My being here is a link (Ms. Chazan talked a lot about linkage) to a group of people who fall into that category. People who are so increasingly overwhelmed by the local and national news that they avoid concerning themelves with global issues. It's my responsibility as a "young person" to involve myself in these conversations on Israel and global matters and take them to other "young people" back home.

Second, as a soon-to-be rabbi, my concern for Israel is practically built into my s'micha. (Rabbinic ordination certificate) My commitment to Israel is evidenced by the fact that all HUC-JIR rabbinical students spend their first year living in Jerusalem. The connetion to Hebrew, Israeli politics, land, culture, and people should all be motivators for us Reform rabbis. But that's not always the case. It's not necessarily conscious: there are plenty of reasons why Israel isn't always on the discussion table, and most of the time it's because there are twenty-five other things on the discussion table, too. However, sometimes it is conscious. We want to avoid or placate or maybe we simply feel like it's going to be too polarizing. As a soon-to-be rabbi I'm realizing more and more how much Israel needs to be put on the discussion table.

Finally, the Israel that I'm visiting today is not the Israel that I lived in five years ago. Certain (not all) aspects are different now. Israeli society is different. Some of it is palpable, some of it isn't. Some of it I know from my brother's experience living here last year. Some of it I've read about. Some of it I've gathered from hearsay. And a lot of it is what I pick up on from the various circles of discourse I'm involved with. But bottom line? Israel is changing rapidly, growing in many ways, and she has new demands placed on her. It's important to be here and speak with people on the ground today and hear firsthand what's going on internally. It's not just about the Arab/Israeli conflict - it's much deeper than that. Domestically, Israel has a lot of growing up to do and, as Ms. Chazan asserted and I agree with, the domestic problems cannot be ignored while looking to create peace with Palestinians.

So. That's sort of why I'm here.

I think these next six days will be intense and demanding. I am certain they are going to generate some pretty fascinating discussions. And I believe what I believed several weeks back, when I was first presented with the idea to join this Symposium. It's an incredible opportunity, one in which I feel deeply blessed to participate.

More tomorrow. It's a packed day ahead.

Laila tov,

Friday, October 25, 2013

Back in Ha'Aretz

Landed in Israel about four hours ago and I've already had sixteen different waves of nostalgia hit me. Here are just a few:

That moment when you're looking out the airplane window and the Mediterranean becomes the sprawling metropolis of Tel Aviv.

That moment when you touch down at Ben Gurion and everyone on the airplane claps.

That moment when you come into the arrivals area and there are literally hundreds of people waiting with balloons. (Unfortunately, none for me)

That moment when you start up the hill for Jerusalem.

That moment when you enter Jerusalem and start whizzing by your old haunts, then the apartment you lived in for eleven months, then the bakery you once bought all your challah and pastries (this was once upon a time before my body started rejecting gluten) and finally, the corner where you once met your buddies to walk to dinner and coffee dates.

Driving aimlessly through the "old goat paths" of yore that became paved streets, searching for your destination you know is SOMEWHERE nearby but where?!

The energy/smell/taste/quiet/peace of Jerusalem right before Shabbat.

The sound of the "Shabbat siren" that rings throughout the city, telling us all the Sabbath has begun.

Ah, Israel. How I've missed thee. 

Shabbat shalom,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Getting ready for Israel...

Over a year of my life has been spent in the land of Israel. 

Let's break it down ... 

1997 trip with family: 10 days 
2000 trip with NFTY: 30 days 
2008-2009 HUC Year in Israel: 11 months 
2011 trip with URJ camp educators: 10 days 
2011 trip with family: 10 days 

Total: Roughly 390 days 

How deeply fortunate I have been to spend so much of my life in Israel. As a member of the Jewish community seven months away from her rabbinic ordination, the country and her people are ensconced deeply in my heart and soul. 

Each time, each trip, has been so vastly different. I now have this eclectic collection of memories from each period I've spent there: faces, locations, foods, laughs, tears... They all coalesce into one solid relationship that feels more "family" than "friend;" more intimate and real and raw than any other place in the world. I'm invested in Israel's future and care about all her citizens. And that's why I feel very, very excited about this next trip to Ha'aretz. 

Tomorrow I leave for the Holy Land with Partners for Progressive Israel. I'm attending their annual Symposium and I could not be more excited. We'll be meeting with politicians, cultural figures, policy makers, and activists from all points on the spectrum. We'll be traveling to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian authorities, as well. (That's a first I'm very much looking forward to).

Just like the expression we say to one another each Simchat Torah when we begin again with the story of Genesis: the text doesn't change, but the way we see it does, year after year. The land of Israel is different each and every time, and I can't wait to see it through the lens of this Symposium and this experience.

Now, back to packing ...