Tuesday evening, January 13, the first group of CAARI participants arrived in Israel for CAARI 2009 – in its 26th continuous year. This year 35 participants will be participating in the program over the 7-week period. It is a pretty even split between Canadians and Americans who came from New York, New Jersey, California, Oregan, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montreal to enjoy the warmer temperatures (we see the temperatures in Canada and the East Coast) and sunny blue skies. The CAARI family has been here – through the Gulf War, Intifada and now the Gaza Situation. Israelis, from the hotel staff to the local shop owners to school administrators, students and community workers, have warmly welcomed CAARI and thanked them for being here at this time.
These are difficult days for Israel. The country and CAARI feels the pain of those who live in the south that face the reality and possibility of daily (hourly) rocket attacks. And…for our soldiers who are risking their lives to protect Israel for all of us – here and in the Diaspora – we thank you. One of these soldiers is our guide – Neil Eisenstadt. See his story below as he reports from his training center in the Negev. Susan Stock, spoke to a friend in Arad told her yesterday – this is the time to be in Israel – you see the country united. So…may I present CAARI 2009 and their travel log over the next few weeks.