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 naïve, 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.
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!