By Brooks Schaefer

“I just got back from probably a trip that beats all the trips I’ve been on.”

– Rabbi Rod on his recent trip to Israel

Being its first trip outside of the country during a still very turbulent time, your first assumption wouldn’t necessarily be that it would go well, let alone great, nevertheless it did.

“It exceeded all of our expectations,” was the glowing review of Catalyst Travels’ recent trip to Israel by Rod, one of the organizers, who found a similar sentiment in a table full of incredibly kind and interesting people. The trip took a group of diverse people not only through Israel, but also to Palestine and Jordan too. One of the more exciting things that the group experienced was in fact something you absolutely would not expect – snow.

Of course a trip cannot be judged as great by seeing snow alone. However for many, it does make many sights more beautiful. Imagine seeing Mount Nebo in Jordan in the snow, the same view as Moses, but snowier – that must have been breathtaking.

“It was the first time I’ve seen snow in Israel. It was fabulous.” (look closely and you canl see Mount Nebo in the distance, covered in snow).

One of the things that seemed to have made the trip worthwhile for many was the same thing many extroverts enjoy – meeting the people.

“One of the things that really impressed me was how knowledgeable many of the people were there,” said a member of the group. As previous readers may recall, the main point of Catalyst Travels trip was to engage in a shared narrative. For those that don’t remember what that is, or did not read our previous article. a shared narrative is described by Rabbi Rod as:

“…about hearing the other person, their story, their feelings, how they perceive it and then making that story your own.”

In fact, according to Anthony of Catalyst Travels, the company was founded for the sole purpose of creating connections. It seems like that mission has at least been successful in terms of this trip, as many connections were made including one between Sally Goodgion and the chief of police in Ramallah, a city in the West Bank of Palestine. Goodgion not only met with the Police in Ramallah, but also with Officers in Bethlehem and the Dome Of The Rock, as well (see photos). One cool story behind those pictures – Kent Police Chief Padilla gave Goodgion a coin to pass on to both the Police officer by the Dome of the Rock and the police in charge of tourism in Bethlehem.

Apart from meeting very important figures in Israel and Palestine, including a well-known boxer, famous journalist and the chief of police, the group got a new perspective on the inside of the daily lives of people living there, particularly the differences in the conditions of life inside Palestine.

“The differences in politics and opportunity, that’s the main difference; life there is somewhat segregated.”

This is a particularly important detail for the mission of peace, as the end goal Rod alluded to was the desegregation of Israelis and Palestinians, something most would consider a truly noble and worthwhile goal. “Palestinians just want what is fair and equitable; and the lack of plurality is a big deal,” he added.

“People create peace.” Many important people were met in the process of creating peace including famous author and journalist, Daoud Kuttab, author of Sesame Street, Palestine: The Ups and Downs of Producing a Children’s Program, and a winner of the International Press Freedom Award. Rod actually sat down with and talked to Kuttab and emphasized that peace between people is more so the goal than peace between governments.

“Governments often times will shut things down,” Rod said, “because it doesn’t meet the criteria, doesn’t meet that agenda, doesn’t meet that platform.” It seems from this interaction Rob’s mission was reinforced: “Im hopeful for peace, and I’m hopeful for a dialogue; Really more peace of the community; a personal peace.”

With the recent developments in Ukraine, we can see that peace is truly something to strive for, as the horrors and destruction war brings with it is something I doubt anyone wants to see widespread again in our lifetimes. Every little bit helps – trips like this especially, and connections with people are extremely important to peace. For those that are disappointed to have missed this trip, more trips from Catalyst Travel are planned in the future in places like Alaska, the Mexican Riviera and others.

For more information feel free to reach out to Anthony at Catalyst Travel: [email protected] or (253) 852-0880.

Brooks Schaefer is a young writer whose credits include Highline College’s Thunderword and South King Media publications. He is enthusiastic about the future of online journalism.

Scott Schaefer

Founder/Publisher/Editor. Three-time National Emmy Award winning Writer (“Bill Nye the Science Guy”), Director, Producer, Journalist and more...