In 2006, when I was 15 years old and still living in Perth, my class and I had the privilege of hearing from Israeli educators. They spoke about the beauty of Israel and the importance of our connection to it outside of Israel. This was the first time I had heard about Israel in such a relevant and personal context – and it inspired me to almost make aliyah!
Before this, I had experienced some antisemitism in netball – being asked why I wasn’t green and made of money – however I was oblivious to the nature of the remarks and shrugged it off thinking, “Wow, they’ve watched too much Borat.” Little did I know, over the next few years, my resilience would be challenged and strengthened.
After graduating from high school in 2008, I decided to do a short, six-week program in Israel for young adults run by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS). Although it was not even two months long, the experiences I had on that trip changed my entire perspective of how I related to my Jewish community.
Stepping onto Israeli soil reshaped my perception profoundly. Exploring historical sites, connecting with locals, and grasping the nation’s intricate narratives illuminated its complexity. As a Jewish young adult, the trip highlighted the imperative of Australian support. Strengthening bonds bolsters a nation that safeguards Jewish identity and democratic values. Witnessing Israel’s challenges and achievements first hand, it was clear that our solidarity from afar isn’t just a choice; it’s a responsibility rooted in a shared heritage and a commitment to safeguarding a nation that stands as a beacon for the Jewish people.
Coming back home to Perth, I started volunteering with AUJS by promoting Israel and fighting antisemitism on campus as well as JNF’s Green Sunday support. I continued along to become the president of AUJS WA and part of the national committee for three years. This allowed me to bring back my newfound passion for Israel and my Judaism and utilise it in ways I found motivational and supportive.
In 2015 I moved to Sydney and joined Young UIA NSW as a volunteer. Fast forward a few years of continued volunteering and engagements in the Sydney Jewish young adult community, UIA nominated me to join their Israel Leadership Tour where I had a deeper, more sensitive exposure to how Israel experiences its War Memorial and Independence days.
From the collective feeling of pain and sadness on Yom Hazikaron at Latrun to the 2000 Jews from around the world, together singing Hatikvah as the half-mast flag was raised to the top for Yom Ha’atzmaut over the city of Tel Aviv; that 48-hour period was the most I had cried and smiled in my life!
The night of Israel’s birthday was the most incredible and powerful celebration I had seen, allowing me to understand the importance of celebrating the good as much as we acknowledge and remember the bad. To add to that, I celebrated with 30 other young adult leaders from all over the world who had the same Zionist passion!
After a rollercoaster of emotions and adventures, I came back to Sydney motivated to fully immerse myself within the Jewish community in more ways than I had before. I started to incorporate what I had learnt until then with my passion for events, engaging with as many Jewish organisations as I could to create comfortable, relatable and meaningful experiences for the young Jewish community to feel what I feel, in their own personal capacities. There have been times when it has been challenging to engage with the young adults in our community and connect them to the importance of supporting Israel from the Diaspora but I will continue to do so as a proud Zionist.
Since then, I have managed and been a part of, from inception to clean-up, countless events from bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings to JNF Gala Dinners, the Australian contingent to the Maccabiah Games, and everything in between. I wake up every morning feeling grateful to God and to Israel for having the privilege to do such incredible work.
Experiencing Israel’s vibrant community spirit and resilience firsthand ignited a passion within me. Witnessing how individuals came together to overcome challenges inspired a desire to contribute back home. Returning to Australia, I recognised the importance of fostering a similar sense of unity and support within my own community. Volunteering allows me to channel the lessons learned in Israel, fostering connections and making a tangible difference. Just as I saw in Israel, collective efforts can create positive change.
My journey instilled a sense of responsibility, driving me to give back and create a stronger, more connected community.
SHARE YOUR ISRAEL STORY
How to participate:
- Collate 10 to 15 high-resolution images from a trip to Israel.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the email header MY ISRAEL STORY, and include your FULL NAME, MOBILE NUMBER, and HIGH-RES IMAGES from your selected trip.
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