One of the most memorable moments for me was a rafting trip down the Jordan River. We were asked to behave ourselves, but as a group we decided it would be more fun to play pirates (stealing each other’s paddles, hopping from boat to boat, etc.) Being surrounded by my favorite people in the world, it was hard to not enjoy the moment, but every time it got quiet we soon realized we could hear the explosions from the civil war in Syria. I can recall talking with my friends about how rafting was the happiest moment of our entire trip, and the trip being the best experience of our lives, meanwhile we could hear the detonations of a war in which people were evidently not as happy as we were. It was somewhat of a reality check, but in the moment we were not be affected by it. It was eye opening to realize how lucky we are and how thankful I am to be able to have traveled to my homeland as a Jew and to not once have felt threatened by anyone.
Coming home from a trip like NFTY in Israel was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The weirdest part was walking into my kitchen and eating whatever I wanted from the fridge at any given time. But other than that, I had to adjust to coming home to the USA while having extreme withdrawal from my closest friends. This trip to Israel had changed me as a person and a member of the Jewish community. I have new understanding of our traditions and teachings, and how I choose to apply them to my life. The NFTY in Israel L’Dor V’Dor curriculum asks each participant to make choices for themselves about their personal Jewish lifestyle through examples of the Jewish people throughout history. Traveling through Israel in any fashion is a wonderful experience, but I truly believe had I not traveled with NFTY, I would not have gained a full understanding of who I am as a Reform Jew living in this modern world.
So, I tried to find one picture to somewhat captures the essence of the trip (see below), and although it doesn’t show a smile, or friends and doesn’t exactly relate to Judaism, this is a picture my friend Rachel took while we sprinted down Masada. To me, this picture is Israel (with me in it).
Well, that’s the end of my blog post, if you have any questions, want to listen to stories or if YOU want to go to Israel with NFTY, contact me!