Sure I’ve done several summer camps in my lifetime but I’ve never experienced something like this. On June 11th, 2017, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Myself and 72 other Jewish teens found ourselves at the airport to begin our 5 week trip to Israel.
The first leg of this journey was Krakow, Poland. In just four days we visited three concentration camps. This took a very big emotional toll on all of us. So by the time we were finally on our way to Israel, we were ecstatic! That first day was extremely long but so exciting. The minute we got off the plane we did a tour of the water tunnels in Jerusalem and then went to the Kotel or the Western Wall. At the Wall we got to read all of the letters our families sent us with which was very emotional but a good start to our remaining four weeks. From that point on, we got to experience Israel and all of it’s beauty in so many amazing ways!
We hiked through the Negev desert for 2 days and even hiked across the country in just three long days! Apart from all of the hiking we visited all of the big cities in Israel and had crazy, interesting activities planned in each place. In Jerusalem, we visited the Knesset which is the Israeli Parliament. And while we were there, the Prime Minister was too! One of my absolute favorite places though was Tzfat. It’s the artist colony of Israel and the study center of Kabbalah. While there we met a glassblower (from Colorado!) who now lives in Tzfat. She talked to us about her journey to Israel and into the art world and then we made our way to another artist who bases his art off in the teachings of the Kabbalah (an ancient wisdom that reveals how the universe and life work). My experience with him will be one I will hold with me for the rest of my life. He was truly an inspiration and opened my eyes to the world of Jewish mysticism that I didn’t even know existed. He was actually one of the reasons I now feel so close and in touch with my Judaism!
The best part of the trip though was creating 72 life long friendships. Being in Israel made me realize that I am small part of a much greater community. When you are in the U.S. it’s hard to feel Jewish when everything is still open on the Sabbath or when you see a church on every corner. But being in Israel made me realize that I have a home, a place where I can always be comfortable being Jewish. I’m so fortunate to now have 72 people that share the same beliefs as me that I can call up any time for anything. And for anyone out there who has ever wanted to go to Israel and they’re approaching their Junior year of high school, I would highly recommend going on Israel Study Tour! We out here 🤘🏼
XoXo – Penn