Rabbi Debra Hachen


Rabbi Debra Hachen

Rabbi Debra R. Hachen serves as spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El in Jersey City, New Jersey after living many years in Massachusetts. A Reform rabbi since 1980, she loves traveling the world and especially taking congregants to see the Jewish homeland, Israel. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and has three grown children.

Middle East » Israel » Jerusalem District » Jerusalem May 28th 2014

Yom Yerushalayim in Jerusalem is the anniversary of the June 1967 reunification of Jerusalem, when Israel gained control of the Old City of Jerusalem at the end of the Six Day War. We had seen many Israeli school and teen groups by the Wall on the eve of this day, Tuesday night, when we were visiting the Western Wall Tunnels, but when we arrived back around 4:30 pm from Masada it was even more incredible. Huge groups carrying dozens of full size Israeli flags (not the little ones on sticks the way we Americans do on Fourth of July) were headed up the avenue past our hotel to the big rally at the top of King George Street from where a march would happen in the early evening down from West Jerusalem to the Old City. ... read more
Maureen welcomes us to her home
At Maureen's apartment
Music on the roof with Rachel singing and Gila on violin

Middle East » Israel » South District » Masada May 28th 2014

We were out of the hotel at 7:30 this morning and off retracing part of our route from yesterday. Nadav did some teaching about the status of different Arabs in Israel - Israelis, West Bank, and the special status for East Jerusalem. Then as we headed down along the Dead Sea he taught about the geology and environment, especially about the reasons the water level in northern Dead Sea is getting lower by 5 feet (maybe it was meters?) a year. Where the sea is shallow, that can mean losing dozens of meters of shoreline. This has been clear on all my trips to Israel, as the locations in norther Dead Sea from which one can go "swim" in the water add more paved road and trams down to reach the water from the changing rooms ... read more
photo 2
Lobby of Hod Hamidbar hotel and spa
In the shade for orientation to Masada

Middle East » Israel » North District » Beit She'an May 27th 2014

Writing this from the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem. Thanks Dan hotels for the upgrade to the awesome suite including a terrace big enough for a group of thirty to have a party. Looking forward to the 5 nights here in Jerusalem. Have to get to bed early (like now) so just a quick summary and will fill in more later. Started out from the kibbutz in the morning. I skipped Nadav's tour and talk about kibbutz life but did my own little walk down to the indoor pool and took a few photos to remember how beautiful it is at Hagoshrim. We drove down the eastern side of the sea of Galilee, past Ein Gev, and all the way down to Beit Alpha. Stopped to see the beautiful mosaic floor of the 5th-6th century synagogue. ... read more
Admiring the main street of ancient Beith Shean
Standing by Western Wall foundation underground
Youth getting ready Tuesday afternoon for Yom Yerushalayim tomorrow

Middle East » Israel » North District » Golan May 26th 2014

As Nadav our guide likes to say: another beautiful day. Yes, it was beautiful out in the fresh air and lovely sunshine of Israel. Beautiful at Tel Dan as the water bubbled from the springs fed by the aquifer; beautiful on top of the Golan Heights looking down at the green valley of the kibbutz settlements; beautiful far off gazing at Mount Hermon; beautiful as we toured the winery and tasted the lovely wines; beautiful inside the Ari synagogue and looking across at Mount Meron; and beautiful in the early evening back at Kibbutz Hagoshrim. Sadly, not so beautiful for the people down below in the Kuneitra region of Syria as we stood safely above at Har Bental and heard the boom of bombs and saw the puffs of smoke rising from what seemed to be ... read more
at Tel Dan
Israeli fields between Bental and Syrian border
Shira - daughter of our friend, Rabbi Kleinman

Middle East » Israel » North District May 25th 2014

Another long day winding down as our group settles in for two nights at Kibbutz Hagoshrim Guest House in the Upper Galilee, the Hula Valley area, looking out towards the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon. We began the day heading down from the upper part of Haifa on the Carmel to the lower part in order to visit the Nirim School in the Neve David neighborhood. What an amazing place - a neighborhood elementary school serving disadvantaged and immigrant children. The principal who took over less than two years ago has turned it into a place of smiles and joy and learning and growth and hope. His name is Dr. Oded Hershko and he gave up the practice of medicine to devote himself to changing children's lives. Field trips, comfy pillows on the floor in a ... read more
Visiting the second grade classroom at Nirim School
Crusader Fortress in Akko
Leaving the grottoes of Rosh Hanikra

Middle East » Israel » Haifa District May 24th 2014

Yes. Day three. We keep packing it in with our amazing guide, Nadav BenGal. And great driver, Avi. We woke up to Shabbat in Tel Aviv. Some of the group got in an early morning walk on the beach, though I kept going back to sleep until the last minute. Good I packed the night before! We began (after another delicious breakfast) with the ride up north on main highway, headed to Tzipori. Along the way Nadav gave the group an introduction to the issues of the security barrier, which is called a "wall" by some even though it is a fence in most places. He pointed out where it was a wall for a short bit next to the highway in a place where the highway was right up against a West Bank town where ... read more
Mona Lisa of the north, Tzipori
Nadav and Hayil in the home where we met
Along the walk to overlook near Carmelite Monastery

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District May 23rd 2014

What an amazing day. Except for me, it was the first time for all our group members – both those who had been to Israel previously and those new to Israel – visiting the Ayalon Institute. The museum tells the story of the young people – teens and twenties - who ran the secret underground bullet factory during the three years leading up to the War of Independence in 1948. Our guide was Shachar and he was the best in all my visits here (my fourth visit). If you have not been there, it’s outside Tel Aviv next to the city of Rehovot. Two thumbs up. From there we headed to Yafo for the Co-existence program we had arranged through Mishkenot Ruth Seminar Center, part of the Daniel Centers in Tel Aviv. http://www.beit-daniel.org.il/en/tour-seminar-center/ It was outstanding ... read more
The laundry machine that covered the secret.
Shachar teaches us about Ayalon Institute #1
Coexistence tour in Yaffa

Middle East » Israel » Tel Aviv District » Tel Aviv May 22nd 2014

So, after being up over 24 hours straight, the sun is just setting over the Mediterranean here in Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps. Our group will be sleeping well tonight. Great flights on El Al but we all look forward to heads on the pillows tonight. Uploading photos from this first day with our amazing guide, Nadav BenGal. Highlights of day included visit to Independence Hall and Bialik House. Plus walk on the tayelet (boardwalk) along the beach for some of us, with a dinner by the beach. Photos included, hopefully. Group is bonding nicely and expect even more fun when we are more awake and refreshed. We did start to use the Birkon Artzi booklets with lovely readings at historic and holy sites. Highly recommend this for anyone traveling to Israel. I had ... read more
Hurry up and Wait #2
Susan and Peter at Independence Hall
Independence Hall

Middle East » Israel May 21st 2014

First meeting of our Israel travel group took place two weeks ago. We shared our goal to be pilgrims, not tourists. Learned a bit about each other. And marveled at the itinerary that will take us from Tel Aviv to Haifa to the Galilee to Jerusalem. Here's a photo of those of us who were able to gather that night.... read more

Oceans and Seas » Caribbean » Gulf of Mexico December 20th 2008

Well, it 's just a couple of weeks until the start of my vacation with my daughter, Carrie. Nothing as serious or historical as previous international trips posted on travelblog, but hopefully fun and relaxing. We are headed out on NCL's Norwegian Spirit from New Orleans with stops in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. All countries where I would like to spend a full week exploring jungles, archaeology, and culture. Oh well. At least I get a full day at each port! And warm weather! We have shore trips planned that include beautiful hike to waterfalls, seeing Mayan ruins, and a river trip. And a beach day, of course. The ship itself was just refurbished in November, so should be nice and clean and fun. I joined Cruise Critic, a cruise community online, and will meet up ... read more

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