“The Holy One Blessed Be He said: ‘The Land of Israel is Mine and the Nation of Israel is Mine, it is fitting that I give what is Mine to those who are Mine’” (Midrash Tanchuma ibid.)
A week from today I will step out of an El Al airplane and into a nation I've come to hold so dear. I can only imagine what it will be like and what I'll be feeling, but right now I'm feeling extremely excited! I'll be leaving the endless winter of Portland for an endless summer (if only I could say this literally). I'll get to see dear friends, make new ones, try new foods, see new things, and hopefully improve my Hebrew speaking skills (all while getting a mega tan).
Going to Israel is not merely a trip; it is a long awaited and important journey. Israel has been a very important part of my life for the past year and I anticipate it will be for the rest of my life. That being said, I've set 3 general challenges for myself for this journey:
Faith, Culture, and Connection: Since going to college I've become a lot more connected to my Jewish faith and culture. I feel a part of a very important history and people. Some of this has to do with a spiritual connection and part of this has to do with deeply entrenched traditions. Israel is the holy land for many people, and is the home of the Jewish people specifically. There is no other place in the world to feel the divine presence and connection to each other. I feel this connection all the way from America, but I believe being in Israel will provide me special opportunities to contemplate my meaningful pursuit of my Jewish faith, my connection to the Jewish people, and how this will be carried out in my future life. I want to challenge myself to really engage in these aspects, think on them, pray about them, and feel the Jewish presence of Israel while I am there.
Advocacy: A common symptom of becoming an Israel advocate it to not vocalize criticism of Israel. This is not because we think Israel is perfect, but rather a reaction to having it's criticism thrown in our faces all the time. During this journey through Israel I want to challenge my views of Israel from real experiences. I want to visit the West Bank and refugee camps and Bedouins and Druze. I want to see the "wall" and the fence and go through checkpoints. I want to visit settlements. I want to visit bomb shelters and speak to children who live through code red sirens. I want to visit Haredi neighborhoods. I want to imbed myself as much of Israel as possible so that when I come back I can be the best advocate possible, drawing from my own real experiences.
FUN!!! Of course my 3rd challenge for myself is to really have a great time. The last 4 years of my life, being in college, learning to be an adult, moving around, finding myself, has all been very intense. I am finally going to be on a huge journey of my own choosing without any true obligations aside from those I give myself. I can't wait to be with friends, make new ones, and soak up the Israeli sunshine!
I hope you'll follow my journey here on this blog. I'll try to post photos and updates as much as possible. You can also email me to ask specific questions (or give me a mailing address for post cards).