I have always been driven to learn more about my place in the global Jewish community.
Who I am:
First off, I would like to introduce myself. Hi! My name is Leah and I will be traveling to Israel as an AMHSI/JNF Fellow for the 2020 fall semester. I will be doing so as a junior (Go Class of ’22!) and a Jewish girl excited to further her identity.
Why I want to go/Why I applied in the first place:
I have always been driven to learn more about my place in the global Jewish community. As someone born in the U.S., I always heard about the tie between our people and a country on the other side of the globe that I knew little about. That all changed when I turned 11 and traveled to Israel. The second I stepped off that plane, I felt as if I had arrived home. I felt a connection to a part of myself that I never knew existed. As a robotics nerd, there is only one way for me to explain this. When my foot connected with Israeli soil, my soul was hooked up to the battery- one filled with the passion of the Jewish people that has allowed us to survive centuries of persecution. Since returning, I have put my heart into expanding my knowledge about Judaism. As of now I have had a bat mitzvah, confirmation, and even studied Torah with my Rabbi! These were all amazing experiences that have shaped me into the young woman I am but, they were not enough for me. I want to keep learning. Israel ignited my passion for Jewish learning and I think Israel is the next step in that life-long journey. Between the field trips into Israel, the Israel studies and Jewish history course, and the Hebrew class, AMHSI is the perfect place to strengthen my connection to my people. By studying in Israel, I can learn the story behind the land in my prayer book, the land I have read about in my Torah studies. Moreover, I can see where I fit in in the continuation of the Jewish story. My expectation is that AMHSI’s programming will help to show me how I can benefit (in however small a way) the beautifully diverse Jewish community in my own city, Israel, and worldwide.
Fears as the date approaches:
To be honest, I am scared of a lot of things going forward. Every day that goes by I think of another thing I need to do or ask. Currently, packing is my main concern. I’m making sure that I have everything packed and ready to go; Israel is a little too far from my hometown of Miami for my parents to bring something I forgot. I want to make sure everything is in place, so I won’t be rushing at the last minute to pack. I am also worried about what it will be like to live in another country, while I have previously been to Israel, there is a big difference between 2 weeks and 4 months. Overall it has been a little hectic but the team at AMSHI has been extremely helpful and happy to answer any random questions that pop into our heads in the middle of the night.
What I hope to get out of this trip:
My main goal for my trip to Israel is to enjoy the experience and form a deeper connection with the land of Israel. As I stated earlier, I want to learn about the community in Israel. This land, the land that takes center-stage in so many prayers, is a crucial part of the Jewish identity. I want to be able to live in this land so I can create a personal tie to that piece of my identity. I also really just want to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Never again will I be able to live and learn in Israel as a teen. This is not an experience I want to waste. I want to swim, hike, walk, run, and smile throughout my education. To me, this is a part of leadership, making the best out of anything you are given. I hope to enjoy every second of this trip while growing both spiritually and intellectually.
The top 5 things I am looking forward to:
- Overnight in Kibbutz Shluchot
- Rosh Hashanah
- The beach