Posted on May 30, 2013 by Heather Kantrowitz
From my blog:
They say to really experience Israel, you have to be here for 3 things: war (unfortunately), elections, and snow… I got all of those in this past year, and so much more! A visit from Obama (Jerusalem basically shut down for 3 days!), praying with Women of the Wall, and so many more unplanned, unexpected moments of amazingness that made up a great year.
More than anything, I think I have a renewed appreciation for Shabbat and the cycle of Jewish holidays. Growing up, Shabbat started with Friday night dinner and ended after shul on Saturday morning. This past year, I have truly experienced how beautiful Shabbat can be. After 5 days in school and spending Friday preparing for Shabbat, it’s so nice to have a day to relax, have meals with friends, and take leisurely walks. Experiencing Jewish holidays where their roots are is another thing I am taking away from this year. Seeing sukkot pop up at every restaurant, and a chanukiah in every window, and going out to eat during Passover – these are things that are unique to Israel, and that are so special and important to appreciate. Watching the country move from the Day of Remembrance to Independence Day – from the price to the prize – has changed the way I view soldiers, Israelis, and the whole country of Israel. Saying “Next Year in Jerusalem” and knowing that you are in the very place where everyone else is praying to one day be – that in itself is an irreplaceable moment.
From start to finish, this year has had several ups and downs, as any year in any city does. I have learned an incredible amount in the past 10 months: about Judaism, about myself, about Israel, and about who I want to be. I am so excited to learn even more this summer – I’ll be working on organic farms in Israel (talk about a character-building experience for someone like me!!) before returning to Jerusalem for another incredible year at Pardes.