Refections from Andrea Arbel, Director of the Partnerships Division 3.11.2008
A short time ago, the first ever "Desert Queen" women's jeep expedition in Israel took off to explore our country's most challenging desert terrain. It was truly a once-in-a-life time experience. While all of us in Partnership 2000 anticipated something special, it was more than any of us expected.
The most moving part of Desert Queen 2008 was the meeting "mifgash"of Israelis and overseas Jewish women. Why? Because for the first time, our overseas friends actually had an opportunity to speak with Israeli women, to spend quality time with Israeli women, and discover Israel through the eyes of Israeli women. They reached corners of Israel that they never would have seen on a regular tour of the country or mission. And what our overseas women repeatedly said is that even though they had been to Israel before, this is the first time that they really felt that they saw the country.
For the Israeli women, we heard with great emotion that they re-discovered their roots. Because of the presence of the overseas Jewish women – who made such an effort to come to Israel to participate – who so care about Israel – the Israeli women re-affirmed their love of Israel. Put very simply, they re-discovered their Zionism. But not only this. They discovered that they are part of something that transcends Israel. They discovered that they are part of a Jewish people and that there are Jews overseas who care and feel responsible for Israel and now they feel the same.
Yes, the bonding of women anywhere is special beyond words. Yes, driving through the heart of the beautiful Negev Desert is breathtaking. Watching the sun rise from the ancient Tel of Nitzana and gazing at a blanket of stars every night as we lay in our sleeping bags left images that can never be erased from our memory. But doing all of this because Israel is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Doing this together because we feel a love for our "Sista Jews" is an experience of true emotion and depth. I feel privileged that I was there.