Men’s Interfaith Mission – May 2019: Life Finds a Way

The Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix is hosting an interfaith men’s mission of community leaders to Israel to develop a better understanding of our cultures and forge relationships that can benefit our local and global community.

Life Finds a Way
by David Zimmerman, Owner & Director of The Family Vibe

Woke up and crushed a work out, breakfast and an inspiring conversation with Mike P. over some coffee before our day began. Mike’s an accomplished drummer, went to school for it, so I drop some names: Vinnie Colaiuta, Dave Weckl he knows now that I know and like a great film every sentence we speak we’re discovering something new about each other – “I love Chick Corea” or “Stop with Jaco Pastorius, he’s not only the best bass player ever he’s a mad genius,” and “have you listened to Weather Report’s Heavy Weather then.”

Inspired by new jams and great conversation we hop on the bus to start our day. The guys are pumped to start a new day reminiscing about the night before as we make our way to our first stop: the holocaust museum. I had never been to a holocaust museum before so wasn’t sure what to expect.

We were greeted by an amazing woman who first pointed out all of the beautiful trees that were growing on top of the museum—a garden full of life, flowers, lush leaves, trees—life just shooting out and up reaching for the sky. We then went into the museum itself, and so one of the most amazing journeys of my life began.

You see, the museum is laid out in a way that begins in darkness on a one zig zagging path down a narrow corridor and with barely any light shining through. It was a journey of shock, horror, sadness, madness—anything the human heart could feel we did. We struggled. We cried. We patted ourselves on the backs in the way men do. And it got me though…until we got to the last room—the most devastatingly powerful room in the building…the resting place of 4.5 million names of Jews who died in the holocaust. I stumble out of the museum and into the light like Mike Tyson just punched me in the gut.

As I make my way up the stairs, I enter back into the lush row of trees that grow above the museum. Below each tree is a plaque with the name of a person or families who risked their lives to save Jews during the holocaust. In my mind a phrase started to repeat itself over and over, Life finds a way. The metaphoric beauty that on top of all this pain, this struggle, this hurt…a lush forest of life shoots out and up into the heavens…Life finds a way. Although devastated after what I saw, I also was inspired and filled with hope.

Cut to the cemetery, where our bodyguard Tamir took me to visit the grave of his best friend, to driving through Bethlehem, to outside of the security wall, where we hung out at Banksy’s “walled off hotel,” to where Jesus was born, back to the hotel, where everyone needed to be showered and ready in 25 minutes for Shabbat dinner, to the Wailing Wall sending electricity through my body, to a rabbi throwing bread, to my man Steve Hilton bringing me to tears and others in the group with his father’s story of survival during the holocaust. Cut to all of us emotionally and physically drained from one bad-ass day, exhausted and grateful to be experiencing this together. I love you guys and I will never forget.