Goal Reflection - Fall Semester 2019
At the beginning of this program, I had three goals for myself: to make unforgettable friendships and memories, to improve my Hebrew, and to forge a personal connection with Israel and the Jewish people. Balancing my homework and my friends was difficult throughout the semester. Despite the challenge of needing to do schoolwork in my dorm room and not in the common spaces with other people, I made amazing friends that I am not going to forget. I made so many memories with this group of people - happy, sad, funny, moving, and life-changing experiences. I am never going to forget Muss and therefore, I will never forget my friends.
Over my four months in Israel, my Hebrew really improved. Spending a few hours in an immersion Hebrew class every week helped tremendously and I had more opportunities to practice speaking whenever I went into Hod HaSharon or other stores and restaurants. Even though I am not fully fluent, I now feel comfortable having a conversation in Hebrew, with people I know and with strangers. Now my goal is to maintain my Hebrew while I am at home in the US. I won’t have a Hebrew class or need to speak Hebrew to get around. I know that there are a number of Israelis in my Shul community, including two Shinshinim (Israeli post highschool teenagers on a gap year before the army volunteering at my Synagogue) who I can talk to in Hebrew. I will need to make a stronger effort to continue improving my Hebrew.
My third goal was to personally connect with Israel and the Jewish people during my time on Muss. I was raised to know that as Jew I am connected to other Jewish people and to the Land of Israel, but it has always been in the abstract. Having had the opportunity to actually go to Israel and travel all around the country learning the significance of every site to our people gave me the opportunity to form my own connection - bringing this abstract concept into my reality through my own experiences. I had also learned bits of Jewish history before, but to have it laid out in chronological order and see the recurring themes and events gave me a far greater understanding of my history and what it means for today. Right now I feel incredibly in tune with my Jewish identity. As I am preparing to back to normal life and school in Seattle I am honestly sad to return to the “real world” where Jewish identity is something that is only inside and not something that I am surrounded by. My challenge for returning home is to not let what I learned and discovered on Muss diminish - to bring my new viewpoints into my life and not allow my Jewish identity to dull just because it is more difficult to be Jewish.