“Life is what happens while you are busy making plans”
It’s hard to believe that I have now been in Israel 25 years. I arrived as a student straight out of university and I now have 16 year old twin girls whose cellphones, Facebook and skype are constantly ringing or beeping with two 16 year old boys chasing them! It has recently come to my attention that I am also, as is the natural progression, turning into my father. To my daughters annoyance I do fall asleep on the couch clutching the remote control and I do follow them around the house turning off the lights.
I arrived as an undergraduate for a year out and never looked back. Thanks to the WUJS program I continued to study at Hebrew University, made Aliyah, found a career as a keynote speaker and now have a family and two Israeli children.
It was 25 years ago that I walked in to the WUJS office, at that time in Arad, as a young, naïve student ready to conquer the world. It is good to know that some things simply don’t change. WUJS is still allowing students to explore and understand Israel, giving them every opportunity to develop as individuals both personally and in their relationship with the Holy Land.
With all the changes I have seen in Israel over the last quarter of a century WUJS is still there and still encouraging and teaching young students in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
One such student is Brandon Robinson a recent graduate of WUJS and a freelance video producer who was looking to spend more time in Israel after participating on a Birthright program. Not wanting to abandon his artistic work WUJS was the perfect fit and he joined the Art Track.
As he explains the program enabled him to understand his connection to Israel:
“I had been thinking about this subject a lot, feeling so connected to this place and not understanding why, seeing that I’m not very religious and didn’t know much about it before I came. Israel now feels like a second home to me…”
He made an artistic video whilst on WUJS, a time lapse of the country. He elaborates:
“I took as many shots of the country as I could, several of them representing what you have to do to build a home and what about the place speaks to you.”
His video soon went viral and was published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. From there a tour operator called him and asked him to make several similar videos for their company. This summer he returns to Israel to complete the filming of these videos.
He wasn’t expecting that participating in the WUJS program would lead to a job and says:
“It’s great….. They’ll be paying me for a number of videos in the same style as the one I made while on WUJS. They liked my photography and wanted me to create something highlighting their tourism and what they offer.
I’m expecting to work on it through the end of July and I’ll stay until I complete it. On top of that, I’m going to staff one of their Birthright trips which gets me a flight to Israel and back. I may extend the trip for myself, especially if this leads to more work .”
WUJS provides a stepping stone into Israeli Society as is perfectly illustrated through Brandon’s story. It has allowed Brandon to discover his connection to Israel whilst continuing his career. As for the future, he says:
“I am definitely open to possibilities. I plan on being in Israel for a year if not longer. I want to explore my options and see if I can find a niche in Israel. If it doesn’t work, I can always go back to LA and freelance.”