This post originally appeared in the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.  Rachel and Daniel Villena both grew up in families with strong religious traditions. Daniel’s Catholic father and Christian mother met at a Christian college and their family life in Quincy, MA was steeped in faith and churchgoing. Rachel grew up in East Cobb. She belonged to Conservative Jewish congregation, celebrating becoming a bat mitzvah, and had strong strains of orthodoxy in her extended family. By the time they got to college, both had fallen away from observance. Daniel even began to call himself...
October 7, 2019 By: Bryanne Mahoney Bowen Bryanne is a proud alumna of Honeymoon Israel Boston March 2017 and is the Honeymoon Israel Boston Director of Community Engagement. You can join Bryanne on the next Honeymoon Israel Boston trip - apply here. This post originally appeared in Alma. A baptized Jew and a lapsed Catholic walk into a bar. They discover a shared love for bourbon and craft beer (they are both hipsters, after all), date for a very long time (too long according to the lapsed Catholic and almost all of their family and friends), and eventually decide to get married....
September 26, 2019 By Honeymoon Israel The High Holidays are the most important time of the Jewish year. Everyone recognizes the hope and solemnity of this special time in their own way. Read on to see what the High Holidays mean to our HMI family.  Mike Wise, Co-CEO: For me the High Holidays are about creating family memories through a Jewish lens. My memories are of family  and renewal. It also represents my first personal bonding with Israel when I was scheduled to leave for my first trip to Israel the day after Yom Kippur 1973, the day after the start of the Yom Kippur...
December 7, 2018 By: Gabby Markowitz Grubbs, Honeymoon Israel Atlanta, May 2016 My mother would plotz. My father would roll over in his grave. If only they knew that my two year old son and I were “making merry” decorating the house for Chanukah.  I grew up in a Jewish household where “Christmas” was virtually a dirty word. We would usually travel to our winter vacation spot on Christmas Day because: a) the lines were shorter and, b) so that we would not develop any Christmas traditions other than commercial air travel. Christmas music would come on the radio,...
November 6, 2018 By: Jeffrey Albertson, Honeymoon Israel Atlanta, July 2018 “May there always be heard in the cities of Israel and in the streets of Jerusalem: the sounds of joy and happiness, the voice of loving couples, the shouts of young people celebrating, and the songs of children at play."  This was a line cited during my ceremony to my wife, Amy. At the time, that was one of the few connections I shared with the country. Amy recalled her travels on Birthright, but it was still a struggle for me to relate and understand her connection with Israel. Prior to...
September 28, 2018 By: Alex Whitaker, Honeymoon Israel Colorado, February 2018 By the time we sank into our seats on our flight to Israel last February, it had been a long year for us. My wife, Jodie, and I had moved across the country in May, got married in September, and both of us had started new jobs since moving to Denver. And while we loved the pace and quality of life in Denver after years of work in DC, we were exhausted. We needed a vacation. Exhaustion aside, we were pretty excited for this trip. We’d both been to Israel before and had seen the big sights, but we hadn’t been...
July 13, 2018 By: Susie Siegel, Honeymoon Israel Boston, January 2018 When asked prior to my Honeymoon Israel experience what I was looking to get out of the trip, my answer was “meeting awesome new people, drinking great wine and eating better food in a country I’ve never been to before.”   My answer was much simpler post-trip: “It was absolutely life changing.” So how did I go from casually drinking wine with cool new friends halfway around the world to having my life changed in a matter of 10 days? I’m so glad you asked. Let me start at the beginning. I am not...
June 22, 2018 By: Teresa Jusino, Honeymoon Israel Los Angeles December 2017 I wasn’t expecting tears. I wasn’t expecting to feel the weight of family and memory and responsibility. Not there. Not at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Not at this pilgrimage site for a community and religion I thought I’d left behind. But the things that shape you are always a part of your foundation, and that foundation remains, no matter what newness is built on top. Going to Israel with Honeymoon Israel in December of 2017 taught me just how much my past still meant to me. I wasn...
May 18, 2018 By: Sarah Gwilliam, HMI NYC alumna and trip staff When it comes to faith, we’re pushed as a society to find a way to define ourselves. Many times we’re given a box and we have to figure out how to fit in it. In some ways, I think it’s so we can more easily describe who we are to everyone else. The challenge is that we’re all a lot of things. For me personally, it’s always taken me one sentence to describe my faith identity. I’m Hispanic, baptized Catholic, practiced protestant-light as a child and grew up in the Middle East. And then I met my Jewish husband, and...
May 4, 2018 By: Brianne Cohen, Honeymoon Israel Los Angeles January 2017 participant Growing up, I had no religious memories. I always said “I was baptized Catholic”, but I had never been to church on Sunday, had never taken Communion, and had no funny Confession stories.  To this day, I am quite sure that the only times I had ever been in a Catholic church were for weddings or funerals. Religion, and to an extent, God, was not a part of my life. I met my husband in 2005 just after finishing college.  We met and fell in love while spending time in Venice, CA. I...

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