BBYO | AZA & BBG | International Convention | Summer

Identity

This Is What It Means to Be Jewish

November 5, 2018

West Bloomfield, Michigan, United States

As the sun slowly set over the Western Wall, I was transported into a different world. The red and orange sky blended together seamlessly as it was swallowed by the city. The city lights all around me slowly began to flicker on. I stood there, in a circle with my best friends, with our arms around one another.

As we begin to sing Shabbat hymns, I look over my shoulder and see another group of teenagers with their arms around one another; they too are singing Shabbat songs. We motion for them to come over to our group's. Our closely knit arms become loose as we welcomed the fellow Jewish teenagers. We all start swaying and join together in song. There was something so beautiful, so magical about this moment. We would not have this opportunity to bond with these complete and utter strangers if it was not for Israel.

We were all so different, we didn’t even speak the same language. But we knew the same songs, had the same traditions. And that’s what makes us, Jews, so special. We have the ability to share these connections. We have this unique opportunity to learn and share these things that create a common denominator between us, individuals, and the rest of the Jewish population. We have this beautiful and amazing place where we are unconditionally welcomed; Israel. When Jews are faced with adversity, we overcome it and stand together.

When faced with death, we create life,
when faced with darkness, we create light,
when faced with obstacles, we overcome them,

and as I stood there, and took in this once-in-a-lifetime moment with my friends, I remembered these things. I truly connected with my Jewish identity. It reminded me that while we may be the minority, we have so much more power than we know. We have such an extraordinary place to call home. And that is what it means to be Jewish. To unite, to share connections, bonds, remember our roots, but also remember our future, for we have a bright one.

Hannah Wise is a BBG from Michigan Region and attended CLTC 5 2018 this past summer. Hannah visited Israel in eighth grade, and hopes to visit again with BBYO!

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