travel to Israel on average twice a year and I also lived in Israel for three years, so how can a trip with 30 other people representing 7 religions give me an insight to Israel and its issues that I have not experienced before?
Actually before I went I felt I was going along so that I can tell people about the beauty of the country and what it means for us as Jews. However what I encountered on my few days there was more a learning curve than a teaching process.
The last time I visited Hebron was 33 years ago at the age of 7. I remember visiting the holy sites without any fear. I remember strolling through the Arab Shuk, and buying and haggling with the sellers, all with a smile and banter. Then something happened to both societies, and the issues are so complex, and so painful, that to think they can be explained in a short essay would be totally disrespectful to all sides of the conflict.
There is room for all people and religions to coexist in Israel, and religious leaders have a role in creating that coexistence. We met so many religious leaders who are on the front line and whose time is mostly taken up listening to people who suffer hardship and pain because of the conflict, yet, despite that pain, they still preach a message of hope and peace to their communities.
They shared a vision of a peaceful Middle East where all communities recognise that coexistence is in each others' interests. That view was also shared by Knesset members Isaac Herzog and Rabbi Michael Melchior, two politicians who understand and respect all sides of the divide. They are pursuing all avenues of peace, and we have to support their efforts, and help them find that common ground where all people feel at home in Israel.
Coexistence will help both sides of the divide realise their full potential and will help make the Middle East a place of opportunity and love.
What inspired me was the sense of responsibility these leaders display in trying to bring divided communities together. They conveyed the urgency of the issue and how imperative it is on us faith representatives from Scotland to canvas our political leaders to help both sides find a solution.
I feel that we gave the people of both sides of the conflict hope and courage to continue trying to find a peaceful resolution to their differences. Many ordinary people whom we met and to whom we explained the purpose of our visit were very moved by our mission and wished that more such visits would take place.
So of all my visits to this beautiful country perhaps this was the most important one, especially if we can make the life of all those suffering in the Middle East that little bit better through the work that we are going to undertake to do on their behalf.
Moshe Rubin is Rabbi of Giffnock Synagogue in Glasgow; Senior Rabbi in Scotland, and member of the Religious Leaders Meeting.