Photo credit: Barb Brook, pictured are Pat and Mara Boettcher enjoying lunch in Israel circa 2018
Going back to Israel was an easy decision for Pat Boettcher, who recently returned from his second trip to Israel. In 2004 he and his wife, Mara, ventured on a historical trip led by Rabbi Shoshana Feferman and Ossie Meisel. Just last month, he and Mara went on the Food and Arts Community Trip led by Rabbi Karen Companez and co-sponsored by Temple Beth-El, Sinai Synagogue and our Jewish Federation. What has changed over the past 14 years?
Both times they visited the Teva Naot shoe factory at Kibbutz Naot Mordechai. In fact, Pat still has the sandals from the 2004 trip. Flash floods near the Dead Sea kept this year’s tour from Masada and the Ein Gedi Reserve, but fortunately, Pat had seen them on his last trip.
One of the most interesting parts of this year’s trip was seeing around 40 Christians being baptized in the Jordan River. There were probably two to three times more people on the Israeli side of the river, although the Jordanians provided a pavilion for the neophytes.
In 2004, it seemed armed soldiers were everywhere. They were at Masada, the Galilee, and the Golan Heights. In 2018, Pat noticed a smaller presence of the Israel Defense Forces.
In 2004, the walls separating Israel from Gaza and the West Bank were just going up in pieces. Now they are a fact of daily life. This year’s group’s tour guide, Ron, was an Air Force Reserves intelligence officer. His child was sick, so he took the group to his home above Jericho. But they couldn’t go directly there because of the rigid travel restrictions and the bright red sign in Hebrew, Arabic, and English that read something to the effect of “DON’T GO HERE.” The tour guide is a settler on the West Bank and realizes he may have to leave his home if a two-state solution becomes reality.
The most memorable part of the 2018 trip was the FOOD. It was delicious and it was bountiful – with Pat saying he would not attempt to recreate any of the dishes here in Indiana. They ate at an Israeli restaurateur’s home where a chocolate collage was spread out on paper covering the table. They also ate at the home of a Druze family.
When Pat and Mara returned from their 2004 trip he wasn’t sure he’d ever want to go back. This time – just a month after returning from his latest trip – Pat is sure that he would return to Israel again.
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