Shayna Friedman

Slowly, Slowly

Slowly, slowly, I stood in a silent space in the blazing heat in a moment in time and prayed at the Kotel. Slowly, slowly I packed my things, said good-bye to my friends and good-bye to my 5 by 5 square foot apartment where the laughter of 10 seminary girls would fill the room. Slowly, slowly, I boarded my plane, closed my eyes and shed tears for Jerusalem, for my people and for all of Israel, and slowly, slowly I arrived back to America.

Lee-aht lee-aht. Slowly, slowly.

My time spent in Israel this summer was not made by the comfort nor by the luxuries (that I did not have) not even by the sirens, which forced my roommates and I out of our tiny-shared apartment and into a bomb shelter in our basement. What made these past two months for me were the little things: 5 sheckle coffee at Cofizz, swarms of people watching the World Cup on Ben Yehuda Street, walking home every day from my internship in Jerusalem and watching the sun set over the King David Harp Bridge, adorable Israeli children – more independent than the average American adult, breaking my teeth trying to speak Hebrew, and of course – the crazy (but extremely skilled) Israeli drivers whose eyes were always seemingly everywhere except for on the road.

When added up these little things are what I will look back to when I think of my favorite place on earth and the best summer of my life. When I am at school, working tirelessly and endlessly for Israel advocacy on campus, when I am eating Shabbat dinner with my family and friends, when I am saying Tehillim and Psalms for our brothers and sisters serving in the IDF, I will think back to this summer and I will remember, why Israel.

I find Israel to be the place of simplicity, a place where one can live a simple yet happy and fulfilled life. I found comfort in Israel in the need to not be comforted by the materialism that western society tries ever so diligently to assert onto its people.

Now that I am back in America I have found it to be extremely uncomfortable to sit in the comfort of my air-conditioned middle class home and to drive from place to place at my convenience. I have found these luxuries to be only that – luxuries. Of course every now and then I appreciate the nicer things in life, there is hardly a person on this planet that will tell you they don’t, however, what is real and what is true and what is forever cannot be bought and is certainly not always luxurious. What is true and ever lasting are merely moments in time that you will never get back – these moments are called reality.

What is comfortable and what is real is dwelling among my people, Israel, whether it be in times of war or in times of peace. When I think back to the summer of 2014 before my senior year of college I will think back to the beauty of Israel and all her people and I will picture my beautiful homeland, a place of democracy, a place of freedom, and above all else, a place of hope.

About the Author
Shayna Friedman is the Social Media Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey. A recent graduate from Penn State University where she grew the Student Supporting Israel chapter, she works towards navigating the Social Media realm, exploring what it means to be Jewish and to support Israel in America.
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