When we visit sites of early civilization — Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, Angkor Wat, Pompeii, Machu Picchu or Petra — ancient wisdom seems like ancient history, evidence of a culture that no longer exists. It is very easy to believe that we have evolved, that modern society has progressed. But the real loss remains elusive: What might we have learned from these extinct peoples?
Every other year, our congregation travels to a different part of the Jewish world to meet and, if necessary, help our fellow Jews. Having traveled to Israel, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union many times, as well as Turkey, Morocco, Spain, Argentina and Brazil, our experiences have mostly been with communities under political, demographic or economic siege. This trip was different.