Young Adults write about why they want to go to Israel - by Noga Shavit

The Israel Program Center recently held a special essay contest asking young adults who applied to participate in educational programs in Israel this summer to explain their reasons for wanting to go. We received many beautiful essays and 5 young adults won an additional scholarship towards their Israel experience.
Here are a few interesting and heartwarming quotations from the 5 essays. They reflect profound love and caring for Israel, along with a healthy sense of curiosity and an enormous will to develop, learn and contribute:

Noah wrote: “ …I am going to Israel because Israel is my home.  Israel is not some rock star who I will idolize and pump up – even when he’s wrong – Israel is a family member that I will love unconditionally, but who I will honestly critique and work to improve, out of love.”

Rebecca  wrote:  “My Jewish identity renewed, something is still missing. I long to find how I fit in with the larger context of the world. What will my life mean for the world? Answering this question will not be possible without tikkun olam, figuring out how I can help repair the world. Where better to explore this than Israel, a place I have an ineffable connection to?”

Jay wrote: “What I do know is that it is the Jewish way to question things.  The key to Judaism is to not be the same as everyone else, but to question, to dig deeper and to be willing to be different. That is what I have tried to do.  I have tried to ask the questions that have been pestering me as I think about the trip to Israel. To me the trip is about asking and answering questions.”

Charlie wrote: “I am going to Israel because I want Israel to be tangible, I want to experience it firsthand, and I want my own stories to tell.  For me, Israel will never be real until I see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, and taste it.  If nothing else, I want to come back from Israel with the knowledge that Israel does exist, and textbooks, lectures, and movies will never do it justice. “

Madeline wrote: “Hebrew is the main reason I will be traveling to Israel this summer.  I have a strong interest in languages, and I believe that the best way to learn a language is to be surrounded by it.  At Ulpan Akiva, I will spend a portion of the day learning in a classroom and another portion of the day putting my knowledge to use all around Israel.  I will talk with street vendors, read Hebrew maps, meet Hebrew-speaking Israeli teens and even be surrounded by Hebrew media.  More Hebrew is spoken in Israel than any other country, so if I want to get better at it, Israel is definitely the place to go.”

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