Posted on February 19, 2017 by Rachel Dingman
“Oh God, make it last forever…” Hannah Senesh writes as she sits on the shore line of Caesara and I can’t help but feel those words in the depth of my soul. I’ve felt this many times on our tiyulim…when we see the beautiful landscape of the Arava; when we are literally able to touch thousands of years of history; when Jamie stops us somewhere, reads us a passage from the Tanakh and brings our hike and our history to life. There is something about this complicated and beautiful land that makes me simultaneously feel like a complete stranger and feel like I’m home.
I asked myself during this tiyul–would I have been part of the first Aliyah, or would I have been an early farmer in Mikve Yisrael, maybe I would have just been a frightened immigrant on a refurbished ship, hoping that the rocky waters brought me to a new land…or perhaps, I would have been part of the millions that came to America.
The “what would I have been” question is impossible to answer and takes me down a windy road filled with confusion about where I am now and where I want to be in the future. The only thing I know for sure is that I’m filled with gratitude as I sit on this shoreline and feel moved by the words of Hannah Senesh.
I, on the other hand, have no eloquent words to express my overwhelming love, frustration, and gratitude for these now almost two years I have spent in Israel with Pardes. There is something special about deepening my understanding of Jewish Text, my personal practice, and my connection to the Jewish world — all while being in Israel. While I know I’m destined to be back in America in May I know that I would not be going back the same person if I was not given the opportunity to be brought to tears on the shoreline as we sing the words of our early Zionists.
Rachel Dingman: Summer Program ‘14 Experiential Educators ‘15 Fellows ‘16
The Pardes Year Program 2016-17 Modern Israel Seminar was generously sponsored by Batya & Ezra Levin and the Irving S. Weinstein Philanthropic Fund.