My Journey to Realization

May 1, 2010
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I decided I wanted to go to Israel for the summer during my first year at boarding school. I had started boarding school at a school with a size of three hundred students. Out of these students very few were Jewish. This was a change from what I was used to. At home, my family would celebrate the Sabbath every Friday night and go to temple. I had to adjust to my new school life which included going to chapel twice a week and not celebrating the Sabbath on Fridays. Although I never considered myself to be very religious, being at school and having different religious traditions than most students, made me feel out of touch with my Jewish religion.

I had never gone to Israel and so I decided this summer was the time to go. It was the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about my religion and travel to the place I had read and learned about for years. I signed up for a three week trip to Israel. I didn’t know anyone I was going with, but I knew that the group wasn’t the most important part of the trip, the city was.

When I arrived in Jerusalem I was amazed. I had learned that it was the holiest city in the world, but seeing it was astonishing. I was struck by the architecture of the buildings made of limestone and domes. As soon as I explored the city, I understood how one city could serve as the holy center for Christian, Jews, and Muslims.

The last night of my trip was the most memorable. That Friday night our group celebrated Shabbat (the start of the day of rest), at the Western Wall. The wall is the most sacred spot in the Jewish religion. As a tradition, when one visits the wall he/she is supposed to put a note in a crack in the wall and write a message to God. When I visited the western wall I was surprised by what I saw. When I got there, it looked more like a movie set because of the huge lights which illuminated the night sky. I made my way through the woman’s section of the wall and found a crack to put my message in the wall. As I put my message in a pigeon actually pooped on my head; I took it as a sign of luck. After, I returned to the group we sat around on the ground of the wall site and sang Jewish songs. Other groups surrounded us and joined in. This was my moment of realization; Jerusalem united all different kinds of people because many religions celebrated the rich history and cultures of Israel.

After my trip, I was inspired to bring what I learned from my trip to Israel and share it with my friends and family. I proudly taught songs and information that I had learned. My trip to Israel taught me not only more about Judaism, but also about myself. I discovered that through my confidence and faith, I could be connected with my religion regardless to where I am or whom I am with.

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