Although I was bat miztvahed at age 12, I unfortunately do not remember how to speak or read Hebrew. I’ve continuously turned to my group leaders and Israeli peers over the past week to help with translating Hebrew. Surprisingly, I did not have to do so this morning as we entered a nursing home in Jerusalem. We spent the morning singing songs, which we all had learned at a young age in Hebrew school and listening to the men and women discuss their origins. It didn’t matter our age, where we grew up, or if we knew Hebrew. What matters is that we all shared a special connection as we sang and danced around the room. We all shared the same songs and Jewish tradition, bringing us closer together…. It was truly a mitzvah to be there with people I could call family.
We continued our day in the Old City touring through the Jewish Quarter and later through the City of David where we went through the water tunnel where the underground water system was created. It was amazing for all of us to see how King David organized the development of the tunnel by starting at two opposite ends and meeting in the middle. Walking through the dark tunnel, knee deep in water, and thin crevices was a challenge to maneuver through for 30 minutes but it was cool to see how such an elaborate system built over 2,700 years ago stands today.
We also had a chance to stop by the Kotel where we all had the opportunity to put our own notes in the wall. It was nice to stop and sit for a few minutes and really reflect on how blessed and lucky I am for all that I have in life. We sometimes take these things for granted and a moment like this really helps reinstate your values and feel a special connection to yourself and the Jewish community at the holiest place in the world. We also celebrated a few bar and bat mitzvahs for whoever wanted to take this experience home with them. What better place to be bar/bat mitzvahed at but the Western Wall?
After the cold and dark journey through the Tunnel we came back to the hotel to hang out for a bit and get ready for a few activities consisting of a short discussion on the Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum we will be going to tomorrow, becoming a donor to help save another persons life, and political issues going on in the Middle East. I learned an important lesson from Neal, the speaker who not only had a great sense of humor, but who also used the following quote that was a great way of ending my day and tying it all together.. “You’re never remembered for the money you make. You’re remembered for the difference you make in peoples lives”
In America, where I am so far from Israel, I tend to forget what is going on overseas. Our society instills the importance of making money for your family and living to work. After seven short days in Israel it’s so nice to feel a special connection to the people of Israel who spend their lives fighting for their country. Although I may be across the country when I head back to America, it’s reassuring to know that I’ve connected so strongly with my Jewish roots and can now truly call Israel my home.