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Please know that our hearts were filled with joy and appreciation for the warm welcome that we received at the airport upon Joyce and my return on Saturday morning. The applause, the smiles, the kind words, the flowers, the balloons – everything – really made for a special culmination to our journey! In addition, many of you had sent e-mails and phone calls prior to our arrival saying that you would be there in spirit. Please know that your virtual presence was felt along with the spirit and support of our entire delegation of friends! Truly a WOW moment!

First and foremost, I spoke to Joyce, yesterday (Sunday). Upon our return, her sister-in-law Gwen Willis, whisked her off to Urgent Care where she underwent some of the same tests she had received while at the hospital in Tel Aviv. She received an additional antibiotic to compliment the one that she had received previously as well as some very much needed cough medicine to help with the cough that had become exacerbated with the long plane ride home and then upon arrival in the US. She commented that she was feeling better and more rested having slept in her own bed – with Gwen there to monitor and support. Once again, as we have done at least 100 times since Tuesday night, expressed our appreciation for the beyond expectations support – from the beginning to the end

In naming names I know that I will forget someone so please forgive my human fallibility. Yet, I would like to personally acknowledge Susan and Marilyn for their make it happen/can do performances done with love and gentleness anchored in firm determination to see that both real and anticipated needs (and comforts) were addressed. Arlene, Virginia, and Marilyn (in New York) worked miracles! I have no idea of how they were able to make travel and hotel arrangements work. (Chances are that if I did find out all that was done behind the scenes I would need to be sworn to secrecy.) Howie and Nancy, Tara, Cathy, and Pat, along with everyone else who touched us with your words, offers of support, e-mails, phone calls, texts, but most importantly – your prayers – thank you!

At the end of Palm Sunday mass, experienced this time like no other because of the Mission trip, my pastor asked that I come up and say a few words (impromptu) to the parishioners of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church about my experience. In my brief comments, I remarked about the deepened appreciation for the words of the Gospel because of the places visited, the sites seen, and the information learned. I told them of being asked by our pastor, Fr. John Allen, to take his prayers for our church community and physically place his hand-written request in the Wall. Yet, the most important thing that I said to them and would like to reiterate to you is about the power of prayer. We often ask for and/or offer prayers. We may be specific in our requests or we may just ask God to watch over us in general. Yet, you never know how powerful your words of prayer can be. Our loving God takes our simple words of want, need, thanksgiving, forgiveness, and/or praise and transforms them into actions that are far beyond cognition or even imagination. Thank you for your prayers for Joyce’s return to health and for our safe return home. It could not have been “scripted” any better.

During those extra days in Israel, I was just the agent – representing all of you. I was honored to do so.

Take care, my friends!

Karen
it’s been a few days since we left Israel and we have not stopped talking about what a fabulous trip it was. We just wanted to let you know that we fell in love with Nomi from the minute we met her. There are not enough superlatives to describe what an incredible guide and person she is. We could see how much passion and love she has for what she does every moment of every day. To be able to share a piece of her vast enthusiasm and knowledge was a privilege indeed.

As far as the planning of our trip, it was impeccable. You orchestrated perfectly, and together with Nomi’s innate sense of timing and ability to read our minds, there was not one misstep. We especially enjoyed our helicopter ride, touring Safad, our desert adventure with Dani (the desert James Bond!), the bullet factory, the 4 Flavor Felafel stand, and our wonderful lunch at Gilly’s in Tel Aviv. Nomi even took the time to bring our 5-year-old to a kiddie gym called Diada after lunch just to make him feel special, which he loved!

Suffice it to say that it is unimously our favorite family vacation to date. We are so grateful to you and Nomi for our transformative Israeli experience which we will remember always!

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday. And please remember that if you ever come to Los Angeles, we would be thrilled to host you at our hotels in Santa Monica.

Audrey, Blake, Cary, Dana, Edward
It is hard to believe that nearly two months have passed since our family traveled to Israel. It was an unforgettable travel experience and the first time our family had toured Israel together – very special. I wanted to send you a personal email and thank you for helping to ensure that we had a wonderful experience in Israel. Without your help, we would not have ‘dodged’ much of the challenging weather we encountered while touring and Nir Ofer was an exceptional guide. He was professional, a knowledgeable and informed guide and teacher and very flexible. He more than met our touring needs and received the highest praise from our two ‘20 something’ children who are many times difficult to impress. He even sent us an email follow-up and asked how our daughter was doing during the missile attacks in the South where she is going to school at Ben Gurion University. We were so touched. You, Nir and the many professionals at Kenes made our trip unforgettable in so many ways. I have the highest regard for the level of professionalism you provide to even the smallest of groups – a family of four.

Shalom & Best Regards,

Tammy K. Mitgang
I just wanted to let you know how amazing everything was. It was perfectly planned and we saw more than most people see in 2 weeks. We were on a constant move and everyone loved it. The restaurants all were great too. We didn’t go to a couple and I’m sure Toby canceled them in advance. She was a great guide. She fit in perfectly with each age group and we all wanted to take her home.

Needless to say we are a tired group but we have just completed The trip of a lifetime. Thank you again Virginia.

Katy Leff
This is an incredibly long overdue email – please forgive me, I’m still catching up!  However, the delay does not reflect anything regarding my gratitude to you for everything you did to make the NYL Summer Trip to Israel seamless and outstanding!

It is such a pleasure to work with you – your constant attention to detail, attentiveness and calm demeanor make everything so easy!

The whole Kenes team was outstanding and often went above and beyond anyone’s expectations.  Please send my best to everyone.
Much appreciation.

Dani
We are back in the United States and still flying high on the joy of being in Israel.  Our trip was amazing! I know that it would not have been such a success without your help and that of Kenes Tours.  I greatly appreciate your responding to all my requests and emails and facilitating entrance into all the museums, etc.  Of course working and traveling with Abraham was the best! We also enjoyed meeting and driving with Avi.
Cindy
I cannot thank you enough for all you did to make our recent congregational trip to Israel a rousing success.  It was the best trip to Israel that we have ever taken.  The itinerary was flawless as were all the arrangements you made.  All the little touches, from the chocolates to the wine at dinners, truly helped make it an experience to cherish.  Your choice of Yoni Shtern was masterful.  He is a kind, charming, and giving human being who was a superb guide.  We would very much like to have him again.

I had never been to the Hula Valley.  The bike ride/golf cart around the lake was really fun and fascinating.  Everyone loved it.  The visit to the chocolate factory was also a great success, something most people never do.  The short hike at Ein Gedi was also a crowd pleaser.  The Rabin Center is so interesting.  We could have easily spent three hours there. 

I look forward to hearing from you and working with you again.

Rabbi Steven M. Fink, D.Min., D.D. Temple Oheb Shalom
I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you did on the Legislators mission. You are really a pleasure to work with.

The mission was wonderful and all the logistics went so smoothly. I definitely do not take this for granted and do appreciate how much work (and frustration ) is involved.

“Kol Hakavod (Job well done!)” I look forward to working together again in the not too distant future.

Naomi Miller Rockowitz, Director of Missions and Exchanges, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, Israel Office
The mission was amazing!  The participants have not stopped talking about what a wonderful time they had – we realized a 60% increase card for card for the annual campaign!!!
Matt
I am writing to let you of the excellent service provided by your tour operator, Orit Gilad.

I work for the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and recently returned from my first trip to Israel.  The trip lasted nearly three weeks and began with the Jewish Federation of North America’s Women’s Mission, followed by time on my own to conduct Foundation business in Jerusalem.  Orit was extremely helpful in arranging my trip details, which included personal tours and hotel stays.  She patiently answered all of my questions and consistently responded in a timely manner.  I truly appreciated her attention and have shared this with our local Jewish Federation staff as well as family members who travel to Israel several times a year. 

I hope to work with Orit on future trips.

Regards,

Sharyn Goodson, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego