The most inspirational and motivational trip I’ve taken in my lifetime was my trip to Israel. Being a Jewish young woman, going to Israel was one of those things on my “Must Do” list, but I never imagined the impact this trip would have on my future. As a result of this journey, I became more aware of my roots and ecstatic to want to spread tolerance throughout the world. It led me to my presidency in my school’s Jewish Culture and Awareness Club and to single-handedly creating and organizing my school’s first Holocaust/Tolerance Program. During those two weeks, I visited the dry peaks of Mount Sinai to the salty depths of the Dead Sea, from the passionately religious Western Wall to canoeing in the mighty Jordan River. Everywhere I went, I learned something new about my “home” and had the best of times doing that. My trip to Israel was truly a life changing experience.
When we arrived at our first hostel, the first place I wanted to visit was the Western Wall since I had heard so much about it and wanted to experience it myself. As we turned the corner, the Western Wall came into view and one could just feel the gravitational pull between us and the wall; we all felt at home. Each gender went to their proper side and began to pray, but, after we were there for a short ten minutes, it began to rain. If we were in any other outdoor activity, my group would have run for shelter, but this place was different. Not one student flinched and, instead, prayed even louder so as to be heard over the rain. This was the first step to our change where we gained maturity and a sincere love for Israel.
The next few days consisted of many fun activities including walking through the City of David cave filled with freezing water in Jerusalem, riding Jeeps up the bumpy slopes of Machtesh Ramon in the Negev, and riding camels, eating, and sleeping in a Bedouin tent called Havat Nokdim. Following these splendid times was one of the most important days of the year in Israel: Yom Ha’atzmaut, in Hebrew, Israel Independence Day, in English. To celebrate, our tour guide decided that we should experience such an incredible celebration with the people of Israel themselves in a Kibbutz called Shaar Golan in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, when walking to dinner before the festivities, my group ran into a problem. Hearing that a large group of American Jews were in the Kibbutz, a few sour Muslim children decided to pick a fight with us. They started yelling offensive terms and throwing chairs off of their balconies to threaten us, but, instead of fighting back, we just ignored them and kept walking. Such an event taught us all a lesson about tolerance and helped us realize the safe environment we were kept in all of our lives. The way this occasion changed me was that I took what I learned and brought it back to Florida in my school’s Holocaust/Tolerance Program. Therefore, as a result of this unfortunate event, I gained a clearer understanding of the world around me.
Furthermore, my trip to Israel was key to my development since it changed my outlook on life and my personality greatly. As the visit continued, my maturity and knowledge grew. I was able to take all of the lessons I learned in Israel and apply them to my future and alter other students’ lives, just like Israel altered mine. This was truly a trip of a lifetime.
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