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How exactly can the land of Israel be a living classroom?

What exactly is a living classroom? Furthermore, how exactly can the land of Israel be a living classroom? These are questions that someone who has not had the privilege of spending time learning the history of the Jewish people in the holy land of Israel might have. For me, this concept of Israel as a living classroom makes perfect sense.

Yes, I do spend time sitting in a classroom, taking notes as my teacher writes on a whiteboard, but this time spent sitting at a desk is only preparation. Many days I’m not at a desk, sometimes I’m sitting atop a mountain, hiking between trees, or even staring out at the desert which seems to stretch on forever out in front of me. I get to visit the places I was told about in class, the land which the people I learned about walked on. I get to see the same things they did, and walk in the same places as them. 

At Masada, we woke incredibly early in the morning, so that we could see the sun rise from the top of a mountain which thousands of Jews lived on hundreds of years ago. I saw the remains of the building they lived in and around. I saw remnants of roman camps far below, where an entire legion waited and surrounded them. I heard the story of the 1000 Jews who made a decision bigger than themselves, to show the Romans that they could not be defeated. 

This is why Israel is a living classroom. Because I’m not just sitting at a desk, I go out into the world and see and experience the things that I learn about. By being in the  land, I am connecting with the Jews who walked the same land, and discovering my Jewish identity.