Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a Wexner Heritage Alumna, Houston ‘08.  She is a practicing Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston, Texas.  Lisa can be reached at

The funny thing about a dream is that you really don’t realize it is coming true until the moment has come and gone and you have a chance to reflect back on it.  In the summer of 2007, our Houston Wexner Heritage Group was inspired by our time together in Israel.  Several of us began dreaming of bringing a group of families back to Israel on a “Family Mission,” which had not happened in our community in a long time.

For the past three and a half years, we designed, marketed, recruited and organized the trip of a lifetime for the families in our community who would follow our lead.  After 400  hours spent tweaking the itinerary to be a balance of learning and leisure, factual and fun, spiritual and spirited moments – we were on our way!  17 families, parents and their children, who ranged in ages between 6 and 15, traveled together across the world to experience Israel together.  The families who joined us were truly pioneers (even though they didn’t realize it at the time) because they were leaving behind their winter ski trips and beach vacations in Mexico to take a risk on our leadership and vision for a true “Family Mission” in Israel.

The final evening of the trip, kids of all ages stood at a microphone on their own accord and thanked their parents for bringing them on “the best trip of their lives” – which of course, left not a dry eye in the room.  However, it was the adults as well, who stood and said they finally “got it” – despite their teenage and college trips to Israel, they felt a connection like none they had before this adventure.

This is one project some of our Houston Class was inspired to do after our years together in the Wexner Heritage Program – and thanks to so much hard work and dedication of several members of our class and their spouses: Tara & Steven Sondock; Margie and Clive Fields and my husband, Rabbi Brian Strauss for making the Beth Yeshurun Family Mission to Israel of 2010 a literal dream come true!