I can’t believe that a week from right now I will be on the plane to Israel. After having postponed the trip twice—I was supposed to go in the beginning of August, but due to the unsafe conditions I changed my departure to the end of August. When the war was still going on at that time, my mom did not feel comfortable with me going in the fall semester at all, and I was left to defer my acceptance to Hebrew University until the spring semester.
That decision, albeit not my own, was one of the most difficult I have made in my life because I feel such a strong connection to Israel and I did not want to have to postpone my study there. Looking back a few months later, I understand my mom’s concerns and I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I think I am now more prepared to live in Israel and study there.
Many people do not understand why I want to study abroad in Israel or have a connection with her at all. It is true that through years and years of Jewish sleep-away camp, private Jewish day school, and Sunday school (both attending and teaching) I have been somewhat brainwashed in the areas of Judaism where Israel is involved. To me, Judaism and Israel are intertwined and cannot be separated without great difficulty. This is one of the reasons why when people attack her actions and say negative comments about the conflicts that arise, I feel a pang of anti-Semitism within these words.
I understand this is not always the case, and I am hoping that in the next five months these lines will become clearer to me, although I know this is very unrealistic. Living in Israel will at the very least give me a better understanding of the conflict, but I realize that by no means will it become easier for me to digest and comprehend everything completely.
To return to the point at hand, the people who are not able to grasp my attachment to Israel have no desire to, although I only hope that in the next few months I will be able to show them that to me, Israel is much more than just a country. I truly feel it is my home and I am thrilled although terrified to return.
Even though I am independent and have been traveling by myself for many years, and have been out of the country more or less by myself, it feels as if I am a freshman at Tufts all over again. I have qualms about making new friends from scratch and navigating my way around a city in which I no longer remember the language. I know I could have easily gone to a Spanish-speaking country where I speak the language fluently, but instead it was my decision to go to a country where I only understand fragments and am able to speak even less. I still remain confident that the Hebrew I used to know will come back to me as I am surrounded by it.
Even so, I want to be challenged during my time abroad Jewishly, spiritually, emotionally, and linguistically, among other ways. I have no idea what is about to happen or what the program will be like at all (if not disorganized, which I could use practice getting used to!), but I do know that I am finally returning to the place where even more than in Highland Park and Medford and Boca I feel the most at home.