Embark on an exciting journey into Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People and my home for the next year! I will be adding my new observations and perspective of student life at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem, Israel. Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Israel Seminar 2

Reflection #2
Israel Seminar, Galilee Trip September 23-25, 2007
Overall, the Galil trip was wonderfully interesting, beautiful, and just what I needed for the time. Getting out of Jerusalem is more important to keeping my peace of mind, and something that I do not do nearly enough. The North has always been one of my favorite parts of the country, I think because of its seemingly endless fields and flowers, and the fresh air that I breathe so freely whenever I am there.
I am completely fascinated with the aliyot and the pioneers that came here when there was nothing. I constantly wonder what I would do if I was in a similar situation, living in a hostile environment in Europe knowing that there was a land that I believed held a more positive future for me and my family. I often say that I probably would have just stuck with the status quo, living in Europe, since in a sense I have not made that move in my lifetime now. I think that people still romanticize the idea of aliyah, however I think that it is different today in comparison to how the pioneers envisioned it back then. Today, I think we tend to concentrate on the political situation and the economic situation over the idea of living in the Modern Jewish State. I still toy with the idea of leaving my family behind and starting a life here, but living so far from my family in the US just still seems too much a sacrifice for me to make. I suppose one day that decision will be set in stone, but for now it will remain as a thought that more than occasionally crosses my mind.
Besides this, there were two moments during the tiyul that impacted me greatly. The first moment was in the romantic city of Rosh Pina, where there are still standing buildings and gardens from the time it was rebuilt. I was fascinated by the interplay between the halutzim and the funder, Baron de Rothschild, who basically saved the yishuv from going under. Perhaps this sounds na├»ve, but I didn’t realize how much impact private donors had on the welfare of the State of Israel even before it was declared a state. The stronghold that de Rothschild had on this particular yishuv certainly impacted the people there, in both good and bad ways, since it was run like a business. I was impressed that he was able to help the city develop into such a cornerstone, as it is named, of the settlements of its time. I was also surprised to find out how complicated the situation was between those in his administrative office and the pioneers there. This was just new information to add to my knowledge of the development of the northern part of the country.
Secondly, the briefing that Paul gave at the border of Metulla was both fascinating and depressing. The layers that he revealed about our Lebanese neighbors were at the same time depressing and uplifting. As he shared his personal experience with a Shiite (I think) family while he was based in Lebanon, I realized how complicated this whole mess of a situation is. While I strongly believe that Israel deals with political situations in the best way possible, a solution to the political problem seems almost hopeless because of the deep schism of sects in other countries. The border was also a fascinating place to be at the time we were there, since there happened to be a group of what looked to be military officers receiving an update on the situation. Paul explained the makeup of the officers, noting their age and rank, and explained that the army was taking more time to update their officers because of the possible conflict that will most likely come again.
While I am endlessly fascinated by this information, a part of me becomes more passionate about what we are doing here, and the other part of me is frustrated at the situation we are always facing here. This trip only deepened that yet again, and I am left with a deep love for this country of indescribable importance to the Jewish people and with hopelessness because we may never live in complete peace. My deep desire is that people will surprise me and I will say that I have underestimated them, but that is yet to be seen.

Israel Seminar

I realize that my posts have been lacking this year in Israel. Unfortunately, my schedule keeps me so busy that I barely have time to reflect on my life here or my studies. However, the beauty of school is that they assign you to reflect, and therefore I do! So, I decided that if I can reflect for my teachers, I certainly can include those reflections on my blog and hope that it will satisfy my readers for the time being.

I have to classes that require my reflection time: Israel Seminar and Education Seminar. This happens to work as far as my personal career goals, since those two things are my passions. I will do my best to add little things here and there besides my assigned reflections to keep you in the loop of my life. But, if you are ever wondering what I am doing here, you can safely assume that it is in the realm of reading, writing, or eating (because there is always time for that!).

Until then, forgive me for only providing you with this...

Reflection #1
Israel Seminar, September 19, 2007
The reflection among the group participants today helped me to understand the place that I am in regarding my relationship to Israel. Hearing that others in the group had experienced similar life-changing events here, and then feeling somewhat disillusioned or unattached to the country this time around helped me feel better about the situation I have felt in since returning to live in Jerusalem for another year.
The truth is that I think my lack of attachment to this particular city stems from my ambivalent feelings that developed over the time I lived here two years ago. Granted, I lived in Jerusalem for 2 and a half months, which is really only time enough to develop somewhat of a feel for the city, but I did not develop a particular love for it. I grew to respect the history here, and the recognition that this is the central place of the modern state of Israel, but I would not live in this city in Israel if I had my choice. I feel like most of Israel’s problems are embodied in this city, and the intensity of that is almost too much for me to handle.
Besides this, the whole discussion of the new Jew creates even more feelings of ambivalence towards Jerusalem for me. The pioneers that came to settle the land years ago would cringe at the sight of this city. The idea of the new Jew of the second Aliyah was to create a sort of Jewish nationalism and strength different from that of the first, seemingly the exact opposite to what this city looks like now. The way the rabbinate has taken hold of holy sites, such as the Kotel, draws on the tradition of the old Jew, and separates the modern day from the past. The pioneers of the second aliyah, in my opinion, would be against anything that prevented the modernization of Jewish practice. The idea of the new Jew is embodied in places like the Golan, where the fields are still utilized for making wine and other crops, despite the fact that Jewish farmers are not working sweat to the brow like the Jewish farmers of the Aliyah.
My hope for this seminar, throughout the year, is to grow an appreciation for my multilayered relationship with the land of Israel and the State of Israel and a better understanding of my passion for this country despite my issues with it.