I HAVE never been more inspired and connected to my Jewish culture, community and myself then for the 37 days I spent in Israel on the Board of Jewish Education (BJE) Nesiah trip. It is needless to say that these 37 days were probably the most hectic and chaotic days of my life, touring an entire country – albeit a small one – in less than six weeks was crazy and challenging at times but irrespectively, I was left feeling moved and inspired by the unique nature of Israel.
There is no place in the world quite like Israel.
There’s no place in the world where you can be driving through some of the most beautiful terrain, and your tour guide will be able to tell you a story from almost every single place you pass.
And there’s no place in the world where holiness and culture is constantly surrounding you. Every place we visited either challenged, moved or inspired me in a way that no other place has done. As someone who has grown up in the Zionist youth movement space, learning and hearing about Zionist leaders both before and after the founding of the State of Israel, I found the opportunity to visit Har Herzl and acknowledge and pay our respects to these incredible leaders awe-inspiring.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities Israel gave me to challenge my views and critically analyse the country and world surrounding me through a new and unique perspective.
While travelling through Israel, not a single day went by on the program that I didn’t feel more connected to my Judaism then the previous day. From visiting ancient synagogues, learning about Kabbalah in Tzfat, having Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel, walking the quiet streets of Jerusalem on Shabbat, and a multitude of other enlightening experiences, I left Israel with a greater understanding and connection to Judaism and my Jewish identity.
I will never forget my first experience at the Kotel, the overwhelming emotions I felt on the first day of the trip, visiting a site that I had dreamt about travelling to for so long. I will never forget how moved I felt touching the thousands-of-years old wall for the first time.
Israel reminded me of the importance of being Jewish and being a part of my community, and it inspired me to be more appreciative of the values, traditions and rituals that our culture and religion provides in our lap.
Additionally, there is no other country that has as much of a feeling of community and supports its citizens as well as Israel does. The opportunities that the trip provided me to volunteer in a range of organisations inspired and moved me. From Yad Sarah, Save A Child’s Heart, Melabev, and even a place for financially struggling students in Jerusalem to get a sandwich before school every morning in honour of Liel Gidouni, I have never seen a society support each other so fully and I was unbelievably lucky and touched by the opportunity to get involved.
Although growing up I have always felt inherently connected to the Jewish homeland, the trip provided me with an opportunity to form my own views surrounding a country that is so complex, inspiring me to return to Australia ready to combat anti-
Zionism and be proudly Zionist. It gave me an opportunity to gain my own understanding of Israeli society and connect me more to my Jewish roots and culture.
A huge thank you must be said for the madrichim and senior staff who put this trip together for us, who were there for us throughout the entire six weeks and supported us in our own personal journeys while touring this most interesting and impactful country.
Overall, the BJE Nesiah trip inspired, challenged and moved me in a way that only visiting Israel can, connecting me more to my Jewish roots, culture and homeland.
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