There‘s almost nothing better in this world than the feeling of finally landing in Israel (I say ALMOST because let’s be real, going to a Beyoncé concert or sitting court-side at a Lakers game is pretty high up there too). It’s a mix of pure happiness and joy and love and appreciation and relief and EXCITEMENT. SO. MUCH. EXCITEMENT.
Although I was hoping there would be a red carpet upon my entrance into Ben Gurion International Airport with a personal escort waiting for me holding a drink from Aroma in hand after a 10+ hour flight, I was just as satisfied with the aggressive Israelis that welcomed me as I went through customs- easily the most intimidating 5 minutes of my life thus far.
I’m studying abroad here in Israel at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s international school (Rothberg) and am additionally in a program called The Nachshon Project. This program, an endeavor of Legacy Heritage, cultivates future Jewish leaders where “fellows” spend the second semester of their junior year of college tuition-free studying at Hebrew U. Throughout the semester, I will be exploring my Jewish Identity, experiencing Israel both on my own and with my cohort and fellow international students, and discovering exciting possibilities for my future careers! This program provides an opportunity for me to learn from and interact with innovators and leaders while immersing myself in an environment designed to broaden my horizons, enrich my Jewish wisdom, and open the door to a wide array of Jewish culture.
For my first week in Israel, I was in Caesarea with the 40 other fellows in Nachshon and our fearless leaders, Rabbi Joshua Cohen and Rabbi Todd Zeff. We spent the week exploring Israel and Judaism in all kinds of ways! Some days were focused on vision and innovation where we went to Tel Aviv to visit Google’s headquarters in Israel, met the CEO of Snowball Studios (an extremely successful international animation studios), visited Alma (an innovative Jewish learning center), and had a number of interesting sessions with other high-tech startup companies. We learned about the first Hebrew city and were able to visit the area where it all started. We spent time exploring Israeli culture through literature with a very famous Israeli author, Etgar Keret, and had a nice and relaxing late night beach bonfire/cookout with a very talented and ADORABLE Israeli singing duo named Yonina. Our opening conference ended with awesome social media workshops, one of which we met with Sarah Tuttle-Singer, an incredible author and the Social Media Editor for this website (Times of Israel), who told us her story and inspired me, personally, to start this blog! She helped me begin this blogging journey and is SO cool and hip and trendy, but that’s beside the point. Overall, that first week was the perfect little taste of what my semester is going to look like and the potential it has!
After being in Jerusalem for almost two weeks now now and having moved in to my apartment with a S T U N N I N G view, I can easily say that this will be an absolutely incredible semester. I’ve already started my intensive Hebrew classes, settled into my living space, gotten to know the area around me, made a group of amazing, hilarious, kind, and truly awesome friends and have felt at home here so far. Although it took me 2 weeks to exchange my American money into the local currency (shekels) and about 3 days to fully unpack, I’m confident that I’ll be doing just fine for the next 5 months!
Can’t wait to share all of my awe-inspiring experiences here throughout these next few months! Every day I am more and more thankful for this one-of-a-kind experience and I truly feel #BLESSED to be here, not only because I’m in the “Holy Land” (as they say) but much more.
Stay tuned! More to come soon 🙂