I recently travelled round Europe with a friend on a coach trip for 10 days with an organisation called Contiki and had the most amazing experience and met so many lovely people.
Both my friend and I are Jewish.
I chose not to go with a Jewish Youth group because personally, as much as I enjoy Jewish life, I don’t want to be only surrounded by people of my own faith.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that if that’s what you enjoy, however, for myself and many other Jewish youths, we just can’t sit still in the same environment without getting bored!
I enjoy the Jewish environment available to me at university as much as I enjoy talking to course friends from various backgrounds.
From growing up in Jewish Schools and being part of the Jewish community on campus, I don’t feel as much of a need to be only going on Jewish trips all the time with Jewish people.
I will admit it’s great having a strong community at university where I can celebrate Jewish festivals, have Jewish friends and in the past I’ve been able to go on tour round Israel with a Jewish Tour group.
They’re all amazing experiences that I am so grateful to have had, the only thing that sometimes goes ignored, is the fact that I don’t have space to actually fully appreciate, or be especially proud to be Jewish.
When I’m out of the bubble I have time to really be proud of being part of my religion.
During my Europe trip I had to be vegetarian as the meat they were providing wasn’t kosher and despite how I would eat fish, it’s too complicated to explain my food requirements so I just said I was vegetarian.
This led to a funny situation where one evening, dinner was pork one of the guys asked me if seeing him eating meat disgusted me.
I laughed and went on to explain how, “I do actually eat meat, and it doesn’t disgust me. However, I wouldn’t eat pork, as I only eat meat that’s kosher”.
I enjoyed explaining it all and because I wasn’t in my normal environment, it made me think about why I do this and how important it is to me.
When I’m with Jews, whether they keep kosher or not, I never have to explain myself because they understand. I never have to think about why I keep kosher.
But what’s the point, if you don’t have a reasons for it.
I think it’s important in life to have that time to reflect on how you live so that you don’t lose sight of what’s important to you.
I definitely ate lots of cheese whilst out for lunch because sometimes that’s the only option I had and I must say I was looking forward to my mum’s chicken soup when I arrived home, however, I don’t regret this experience at all and look forward to many more much like this one.
I guess I just have to prepare for more cheese!