These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[Alumni Guest Post] A Love Grounded in Relationships

Posted on April 17, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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Lisa Narodick Colton (Year '99-'00) reflects upon the
impact of a recent trip to Israel with her son.

LNCI was 21 years old when I first came to Israel. A summer in Tzvat begged more questions than it answered, and I returned for 15 months in Jerusalem (including Pardes) to fill in the openings.

This Pesach I brought my 8 year old son to Israel for the first time. I’ve known since before I had children that I wanted them to have an intimate and informed relationship with Israel embedded in their Jewish identity from an early age. And while I have dreamed of coming back to Israel for years, it was hard to choose the age and time and itinerary that would achieve this effect.

Ultimately, I realized that the sense of intimacy, normalcy, reality that I craved for him was more about people than it was about travel. While we covered a lot of ground, and learned a ton of history (ancient and modern), the real impact was visiting friends from home who are spending the year in Jerusalem (including going to school with their kids for a day), spending Shabbat with our cousins who now live in the Old City, and visiting old friends in Tzvat and Tel Aviv.

While the experiences were radical for him, the relationships were very real. The tendency to ‘float above’ reality as a tourist was brought down to earth by these social roots.

I believe, in fact, that a grounded experience with people he knew well allowed my son to absorb and digest more of our trip than he may have otherwise. He connected stories through time and space, across denominations and practices, and really understood how what he was learning was not theoretical. It was very real.

Towards the end of our trip he asked if we could move to Israel like our friends had done, at least for a year. It was a good sign of a mission accomplished.

Today I chaperoned a field trip as his class visited the Virginia Frontier Museum and learned how pioneers in the 1700’s and 1800’s lived when they came to America. As his classmates reveled in artifacts that were 200-300 years old, Eli looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye and mouthed, “this is nothing compared to Israel!”