Why Do I Feel Connected?

May 14, 2024
Lea Mordkovich

Berlin, Germany

Class of 2025

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Why do I feel connected? Is it the falafel I like or the culture I adore?

Hello, my name is Lea. I am 17 years old and I was born and raised in Berlin, the capital city of Germany.

My parents came to Germany due to the antisemitism in the Soviet Union during their youth. Because my parents & grandparents have never lived in Israel, they did not have Israeli citizenship. Unlike my parents and I, my grandparents haven’t even visited Israel yet. 

So why is it, that I feel so connected to Israel?

Why is it that every time I am there I feel like I belong? 

Why is it that even with all the danger, Israel is the country I feel most safe in?

And lastly, why is it that in times of war, I feel as compassionate as if it was my own country?

The first time I felt a connection to Israel was when I first visited Jerusalem back in 2016. Me and my parents went to visit the Western Wall. I stood in front of the wall and simply started crying for no reason, well that’s what I thought.

So I asked myself, why did I cry?

I grew up and still live in a very diverse circle of people. I am surrounded by people who were born in Israel and also by people who were born here in Germany. I am surrounded by people whose parents came to Germany, but also by people whose families have lived in Germany for generations. I am surrounded by people who were not born in Israel or Germany, but somewhere else entirely and then came to Germany with their families. I am surrounded by people who visit Israel every year, as well as people who have never been to Israel. 

One thing that connects all of them is that they are all Jewish. 

There is a quote of the philosopher Ernst Bloch which is translated as “We are a little bit everywhere, but not entirely anywhere. We are not adept at staying and never truly arrive."

I speak for my diverse circle of friends as well as for myself when I say that this quote pretty much sums up how we feel about our identity. For example, I was born in Germany and never really felt German even though I have German citizenship. My mother is from Ukraine and my father is from Russia but still, I would never identify myself as Ukrainian or Russian if someone asks about my identity. I feel like I am “too German“ for the Russian or Ukrainian people but at the same time to “foreign“ for the German people. 

To make everything simpler I would just like to say “I am Jewish” because that’s the only thing I am 100% sure about.

That’s the reason why Israel plays such an important role in my life. I am no Israeli, I have never lived in Israel for longer than 2 weeks, and I have no family in Israel, but still, when I arrive at Ben Gurion airport and I see the sign ‏ברוכים הבאים which means as much as ”welcome“ or ”a blessed welcome“ I feel something that I don’t feel in ANY other country. When I walk through Shuk Ha‘Carmel, a famous market, and eat my falafel from ”falafel gabay“ I simply feel at home. When I feel the sand on my feet at Gordon Beach, see the sunset, and hear Israeli music coming from the beach cafes, I feel like I belong. 

They say being a Jew in Germany is not difficult until they have to hide their star of David when they ride the train or don't want to mention the word Israel in public places anymore. In Israel, I would never even think of lying about my religion or hiding my Jewish identity.

And that’s why I support Israel in times of war. I feel an emotional as well as spiritual connection to the land and its people. Israel holds a cultural as well as religious significance for me. When Israel is attacked, I as a Jew feel unsafe too. Israel is my safe space and I will never stop supporting a homeland and refuge for Jews worldwide.

And that’s why I feel connected.

Am Israel Chai.

Lea is a BBG, from Berlin, Germany, and is a member of ZWST.

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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