Climbing Masada Simsbury couple travels back in time

By Cindy Mindell

SIMSBURY – Twenty years after they first met in the Israeli desert, Ellen and Howard Rosenberg of Simsbury decided to show their three kids the place where their courtship began.
Ellen and Howard were both on a national Jewish Federation mission to Israel in 1992. A native of Roslyn, Long Island, Ellen was living in Manhattan; Howard was living in his hometown, West Hartford. They first met when the group visited Jerusalem, but their connection became more serious the day they climbed Masada. They started dating upon their return to the U.S.
Fast-forward 20 years and three children – Zach, 15; Jake, 13; and Sophie, 12. With a son newly bar-mitzvahed and a significant anniversary of their own, the couple decided the time was right for a return trip.
“We waited to go back because we wanted to share it with our children and wanted to make sure they were at the right ages to be able to both enjoy the trip and get the most out of it,” says Ellen.

The Rosenbergs in Israel

They contacted Touring Israel on a friend’s recommendation and chose the same tour-guide, Joe Yudin, arranging a 12-day tour including the usual stops – a mix of historical, cultural, and popular sites in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the north. And, of course, they climbed Masada.
“I joked that Masada was where Mom chased me and begged me to be her boyfriend,” says Howard. “But, in actuality, it was I who did the chasing! I think the kids got a kick out of seeing where we started as a couple, way before they were born, and it gave them a personal connection to Masada, as well as its obvious historical significance.”
The country has changed considerably over the last 20 years, Ellen says. “It seems that it has exploded with research and design and is really cutting-edge on renewability and sustainability; it is a very green country,” she says. “There is also a great deal of archeological work both completed and underway.”
Most striking to the couple was the sense of normality in the country. “You would never know that Israel is in constant conflict,” says Ellen. “Life in Israel goes on as normal and never once did we feel anything but 100 percent safe and secure. We all felt safer anywhere in Israel than if we were visiting any major city in the U.S.”
In the end, the couple hopes that they have given their kids something to remember all their lives. “It was very meaningful to take our kids to Israel; especially meaningful, as Israel was the place our lives came together –which ultimately led to our marriage and our three beautiful children,” Howard says.

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