From the Holy Land of Israel as our Honeymoon Israel trip concludes here, I reflect on the strong connections we’ve built back home with 19 other wonderful young couples, many of which are interfaith, mixed and/or transforming into a shared “Jewish” life in unique personal and familial ways that manifests with meaning for each individual and their partner.
While we only had 10-days together, it was evident to my fiancé, Carlin, and me since we arrived and welcomed in Shabbat in Tel Aviv to our conversations with a diverse assortment of all types of people living in Israel to weaving the trip altogether in Jerusalem with our shared history as a Jewish people while embracing our unique inherent differences, that unity doesn’t only create community, but it’s a dynamic and ever-evolving community we look forward to planting roots.
Everyone’s vulnerability and open-mindedness on both an individual and collective level allowed for an authentic expression of love, acceptance, and growth. Growing up very involved in the Atlanta Jewish Community, one realization I found enlightening was the uncertainty of how to initiate an engagement or involvement in Jewish community when the desire for exploration exists, especially when family is considered.
The reality is Jewish involvement in Atlanta and beyond is strong, dynamic, and has something beautiful to offer for everyone. Whether it be religious, cultural or social, I’ve found Greater Atlanta to be a source of Jewish life across all sects, belief systems, and interests. I’ve been very fortunate to experience an array of diverse Jewish life from Greenfield Hebrew Academy (GHA – Now AHA) to being touched by the Ort Lipson Israeli-American Exchange Program to SOAR, Friendship Circle, Birthright, and Temple Emanu-El in which I’m a proud member of the Board of Trustees and involved in their Next D’Or 20s and 30s programming. Both within and outside the community, I’m passionate about continued learning, acceptance, and advocation for cultural pride and exchange.
Ben Halpern is executive vice president of Farmers & Fishermen Purveyors and member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Emanu-El.