20 Couples Experience ‘Modern-Day Judaism’ During Honeymoon Israel Trip
“The feeling is indescribable when a couple who has felt less connected to religion or community comes together with other couples, who are also exploring what it means to become more connected, and become friends,” said Jaynie Levinson, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Young Adult Division Development Officer, after the recent Honeymoon Israel trip.
Honeymoon Israel is a national organization that provides immersive, luxurious trips to Israel for local couples that have at least one Jewish partner and who are early in their marriage or in a committed relationship. The goal is for the couples to share fun, meaningful experiences with each other and to build friendships and community. Honeymoon Israel collaborated with The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, and the Mayerson JCC to heavily subsidize the trip for participating couples.
Twenty couples, along with Levinson and Rabbi Shena Jaffee, the JCC’s Director of Jewish Life, arrived in Jerusalem the morning of February 14 and within the first hour were in the kitchen learning how to make challah with a top Israeli chef.
The couples spent the next nine days exploring Israel: hiking Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, touring the Old City of Jerusalem—but also learning about themselves and continuing to build their relationships. “We learned from each other each step of the way. Taking the time to listen to each other’s cultures, values, family upbringings,” said Levinson.
“This trip displays modern-day Judaism,” said Levinson. “It’s not about conversion; it’s about how to bring Judaism into a multi-faith home, taking the time to truly be intentional about incorporating values into their home for their own relationship, for their children, and for future generations.”
Honeymoon Israel helps connect young adults to Judaism and deepen their connection with their partners, but it also helps build a community here in Cincinnati by introducing couples to new friends.“This has been one of the most influential experiences of my life,” said Honeymoon Israel participant Brendan Saddlemire. “I cannot remember a time when I was surrounded by such open, honest, and life-loving people. This group has truly made me feel that I could not only be accepted by the Jewish community, but that I could be loved by them, too.”
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