For 37 days, I toured the holiest place in our culture surrounded by over 160 other teens from all across Australia. It is needless to say that these 37 days were probably the most hectic and chaotic days of my life, never getting a moment alone and touring an entire country, albeit a small one, in 6 weeks was crazy but in the end we did it. Regardless of the craziness, the homesickness, and the once in a while feeling of wanting some alone time and time to rest, at the end everyone left with no regrets, agreeing that this trip and the opportunity to travel Israel had changed our lives forever.
There is no place in the world quite like Israel, no place in the world where you can be driving through some of the most beautiful terrain in the most random places and your tour guide will be able to tell you a story from outside your window almost every single drive, no place in the world where holiness and culture is constantly surrounding you. Although it may be a tiny country, it is still jam packed with an insane amount to do and learn from—from swimming in the Dead Sea, climbing Masada, seeing the sites of some of the fiercest battles in Israeli history, seeing the incredible Israeli agricultural practices, hiking through the awe inspiring Negev Desert, and so so much more. Israel has a way of surprising you in every place you go. In some ways, this is what makes Israel such a special country, the way that every single part of the country is so aesthetically beautiful and has a story that relates to our people and our culture fighting antisemitism and returning to or keeping our homeland safe.
Furthermore, there is also no other country where holiness is constantly surrounding you, no other place where something as simple as a wall can connect you spiritually in the most amazing way. Not a single day went by on the program that I didn’t feel more connected to my Judaism the day before. From visiting ancient synagogues, learning about Kabbalah in Tzfat, having Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel, visiting the graves of the fathers of modern day Zionism, and a multitude of other enlightening experiences, we all left Israel with a greater understanding of Judaism and our Jewish Identities. I myself can say that Israel reminded me of the importance of being Jewish and being a part of my community and inspired me to be more appreciative of the values, traditions and rituals that our culture and religion lays in our lap.
Additionally, there is no other country that has as much of a feeling of community and supports its citizens as well as Israel does. Although a Jewish state, Israel has people from many different cultures living there and to hear how proud the Druze and Bedouin people are of living in the country was fascinating. There were also so many organizations that were designed to help Israelis and people from all over the world through tough times from Yad Sarah, Save A Child's Heart, Melabev, a place for financially struggling students in Jerusalem to get a sandwich before school every morning. These organizations changing the lives of struggling people was inspiring and reminded me of how well people are looked after and cared for in Israel and of the importance of having a Jewish state where these people can be looked after.
However, probably more important than anything else, a trip to Israel teaches you so much about yourself. From things as simple as what foods you do and do not like to the more important and difficult things like when you physically cannot retain any more information or the times when you need a break, it gives you insight to the most important parts of your life and allows you to learn lessons that you can take back and put into your life every single day. The way I was able to get in touch with parts of me I barely knew existed will have forever changed my life.
Overall, I could not be more grateful for my 37 days spent in Israel and the lessons it taught me about so many important topics. But I know the experience I had in Israel wasn’t exclusive to me or the trip that I was on but instead is a universal experience upon traveling to Israel. Every single thing I learnt on the trip will stick with me for the rest of my life and we as the Jewish people could not be more lucky to have the opportunity to travel to a country so incredibly important to our culture and religion.
Ruby Borer is a BBG living in Sydney, Australia who has a dog named Marshmello.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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