Insight into Israel- Alyssa Boden
My name is Alyssa Boden and I left for AMHSI on 9/1/21. As we arrived at the airport I didn’t know what to think. Happy? Sad? I couldn’t wait to experience being in Israel for 4 months exploring the land of our ancestors. As I boarded the plane with my Seattle peers I was excited, energized, and a little fearful to immerse myself into a new culture.
We began with a one-week quarantine where we had capsules of six people. While it was challenging, we took this opportunity to rest, get accumulated, and meet new friends. We couldn’t wait to emerge into our new rooms and explore Israel for what it has to offer! Now, we have been here for a month and it was the best decision I ever made. I’ve only known my peers for four weeks but it feels like I’ve known them forever!
In school, we started from the beginning of our Jewish heritage dating back to 4000 years ago. We learned and visited the places to better understand the circumstances around the history. The first place we visited was Tel Gezer where we learned about a Tel and how it is made up of years and years of civilization. We also learned about the four D’s which are defense, drive, dine, and drink. As we went on more and more trips to Sataf, Jerusalem, Beit Guvrin, and The City of David, we had Jewish Holidays. My favorite holiday we celebrated here was Yom Kippur because we made our way to Jerusalem for two days. On Erev Yom Kippur, I decided to go to a conservative temple which I really enjoyed because I attend one back at home as well. Even though they’re both conserved temples, it was hard for my group and I to understand where we were in the prayer book. Back at home, we have a prayer book that reads in English and more prayers I personally know better from my camp and Jewish experiences. After the temple, we decided to go on an adventure and as soon as we walked outside we were greeted with bike riders, skateboarders, and families enjoying the holiday together. This was an experience that happens nowhere else. We walked to a park and ended up finding an amphitheater to see the moon and stars glowing in the sky. Our group met up with everyone in our program to sing songs on the streets of Israel. We sat in a circle in the middle of the street singing songs and creating a bond between each other with other teens from the USA and Israelis. Sitting in the middle of the street, no cars to be seen and as we headed back to the hotel for the night we walked barefoot to feel the “earth”. The next day we walked around to the temple and then headed to breakfast at the Kotel. Being at the Kotel is one of my favorite places in Israel and experiencing breakfast there made it even more special to me. While at the Kotel, everyone was in their white clothes and reading the Torah in different groups on the men’s side, and on the women’s side most-followed along with the men’s side and others did their own thing. I sat down and faced the wall and reflected on life and my wrongdoings for Yom Kippur and that’s when I saw the three stars in the sky, indicating the fast was done.
Now, almost 3 weeks later, I have settled into my room and have made friendships that will last a lifetime. I have learned so much here and I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the next few months. Thank you to those who gave me this experience as I will always remember this time in my life.