June 29, 2008 / 26 Sivan 5768
The Beit Yeshurun Congregation from Houston, Texas, a Conservative congregation headed by Rabbi David Rosen sent a delegation of 50 members to Israel on a combined solidarity visit and fact-finding tour.
One of the highlights of their visit was a meeting on June 22, with "lone star" soldiers, Israel Defense Army soldiers who came on their own from various countries throughout the world to serve in the Israeli Army. While any army service can be rigorous and sometimes traumatic, to do so without family backup takes a special brand of courage. Members of the delegation conveyed their empathy and admiration in a meeting with such soldiers. They heard the soldiers recount their decision and the motives behind it and how they are overcoming language and other difficulties and integrating within their units. Delegation members were moved by the soldiers' determination to stick things out and serve their people and were appreciative of Jewish Agency efforts on their behalf.
Another high point was a tour of the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center that took place on the next day, June 23. The group took in the comprehensive educational effort ranging from kindergarten to adult ulpans for Hebrew language training. The group again took pride in the work being performed by the Jewish Agency in promoting the rapid integration of the olim into the State of Israel. Having been exposed to talk about post Zionism the Beit Yeshurun delegation learned from meeting the soldiers and the olim that Zionism was alive and well.