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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another "Closing"

Greetings family and friends!

Today was the finale of our Israel Seminar Program. Every Wednesday we have explored Israel from the period of the "New Jew" (the Early Pioneers at the end of the 19 and beginning of the 20th century) to the present day. We have explored so many different aspects of Israeli society. We looked at Israel through the eyes of Jews, Christians, Arab Christians and Arab Muslims. We've been to Israeli Arab towns and to areas still in dispute with Israel's neighbors.

There have been so many interesting experiences that have truly helped to shape not only my relationship with Israel, but the internal conflict that I feel toward Israel. The Israel Seminar has helped to shape and reshape my Jewish identity, religious, spiritual, etc. My political views have changed over and over again as I have lived in Israel this year. Living every day what Americans read in the newspaper has truly been eye opening. When my friends and family read about the terrorists activity at Mirkaz Rav, it was only about a 20 minute walk away from my home.

Every Sunday, we have read the news in Israel from an Israeli newspaper, feeling as if we were a part of that news, and for much of the news, we have been. The Israel Seminar has given me the opportunity to explore so many aspects of being an Israeli and being a Jew. By no means do I feel I have "learned it all." And, while my Hebrew ability has grown so much while being here, I do have much more to learn before I can even think of myself as fluent. But, living in Israel, and the experience of Israel Seminar has given me so many more tools to use when I discuss Israel back at home.

After all, being able to bring Israel back to the States is one of the goals of Israel Seminar. It's not just about my experiences. It's also about my ability to share my experiences and knowledge with friends, family, and future congregants back in the United States. I only hope when we return to the States, I am able to even touch the surface when I begin to teach about Israel and share these experiences.

The end of the Israel Seminar means I am now charged with continuing my Israel experience and education on my own, without the structure of the Israel Seminar. I am excited about these opportunities!

B'Shalom!

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