Experiencing Israel Through Our Children’s Eyes

By Josh Kroo
Special to HAKOL

A love of Israel has been a core part of my family values since before I can remember. In fact, Danielle (my wife) and I met at an Israel-focused Jewish summer camp more than 15 years ago. Both of us visited Israel multiple times during our youth and even lived in Israel (separately) on Young Judaea’s Year Course program during the late 1990s. In more recent years, my parents began making an annual trip to Israel and we had the chance to join them a few times. Suffice it to say that Israel is a place we both cherish deeply.

This love of Israel and its importance is something Danielle and I are passionate about instilling in our children. It’s why we send them to Jewish Day School and Jewish summer camps, and when the opportunity arose to take them to Israel this spring, we jumped on it.

While we have been to Israel many times, Danielle and I were eager to experience the country and culture through our young children’s eyes. With Samson being 7 and Lily 4, we felt it was a good time to make the trip. It was also incredibly special to experience it with my parents and my sister’s family. Having three generations in Israel at once was something unique and special.

The trip, needless to say, was incredible. The things we did weren’t necessarily new to us, but they felt new experiencing them through the kids. Walking through the history of the old city of Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea (minus a slight salt in the eyes problem) and being showered by a waterfall on a hike in Ein Gedi are all experiences that we will cherish and remember. Visiting our friends’ home on a kibbutz and just experiencing the culture, food and language was instantly more memorable than it was on past trips. Hiking through the world’s largest (erosion) crater in Mitzpeh Ramon (something I’ve done many times) was all of a sudden new and different. We even rode a camel in a gas station parking lot – what could be more memorable and uniquely Israeli than that?

Our hope is that our kids look back on this trip as fondly as we do and that it becomes a first big step in fostering a care and passion for this amazing country. I can say that for Danielle and me it was like the adventure beginning all over again.