Tripped up by Mid-Mo. residency

Pam Droog Jones

By Pam Droog Jones

When I saw the ad, I shouted, “Yes!” A Jewish women’s tour of Israel — like Birthright for women!

Just what I had been looking for—not a sponsored tour for young adults, college students or teens, or leaders or big shots, but an Israel tour for women like me who wonder what all the fuss is about, who could re-connect with their core Judaism and put it to work in all kinds of ways.

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra advertisement

Being a writer, I could interpret my experiences in a variety of media—Jewish, women’s, travel, culinary, history. I also could share the splendor and importance of Israel with my fellow synagogue congregants and other area groups like churches, women’s organizations and schools. The reverberations could be far-flung.

The dates looked perfect—plenty of time for my new hip to settle in for schlepping through airports and hiking through deserts. The airfare seemed affordable. Though the trip is billed as “primarily for mothers of children under 18” and my son is 20, I figured I could share my child-raising experiences and perhaps be a source of wisdom. Someone has to be the oldest.

So I decided to call the phone number on the ad, to get more details, schmooze a little and perhaps stand out when selection time came along. Everything was going beautifully—until I mentioned I live in Central Missouri. No, he said, you have to live in St. Louis. What?

Although I’ve been gone several years, I still consider myself a St. Louisan—I grew up in University City! I only moved to Jefferson City because of my husband’s job! I go back frequently to see clients and friends! Don’t people who live in St. Louis go on these tours all the time? Think of the impact I could have in this overwhelmingly non-Jewish area. But Rabbi David nicely explained the rules are made by the sponsoring organization.

So that was that.

Of course I could just pay my own way to Israel. But that’s not the point. Israel is my birthright, too. Maybe there’s another sponsored Israel tour group for upper-middle-aged ladies I could join. I know they would get their money’s worth.