by Daniel Ramer, Special to NJ Jewish News
I was floating in a clean, crisp, natural pool in the middle of the Negev. My family and I had just traveled 30 minutes off-road with our new Israeli friends on a bumpy, thrilling ride. The landscape was reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. We had parked, walked another five minutes, then there it was in the distance.
About a year ago, I joined the Partnership 2000 committee. P2K connects us directly with our partner cities and programs in Israel; in the Negev, we help create programming in the city of Ofakim and the Merchavim region. A new program called the Peoplehood Project was forming; its goal was to form living bridges between adult Jews in our partner community and in MetroWest. It sounded exciting and I was accepted — joining eight other Americans and nine Israelis.
In July, my family returned from a tour of Israel celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. Thirteen Ramers toured the country for 11 days; for another four days, my nuclear family drove around the South. We spent one day traveling with our friends from home, the Russos, as Amir Shacham and Michal Zur of MetroWest’s Israel office were kind enough to give us a personal tour of Kibbutz Erez, near Gaza, and of a working farm, where the kids milked goats and made cheese.