Moving from a blind love to a more valid love

31 Aug

 

Rishon beach Rachel Bonder

Rishon LeZion beach. (Photo credit: Rachel Bonder)

 

A summer Israel program participant reflects on her experiences, her connection to Israel and Zionism, and Israel education

by Rachel Bonder

Along with my growing appreciation for my Judaism, I have found a new appreciation for Israel that I did not know was possible to have. For my entire life Israel has been a dream destination to me. My mother is a proud Zionist and a proud Israel advocate. She has always updated my family on Israeli current events. The first time I went to Israel the feelings I experienced were indescribable. The sound of the Hebrew around me and the kosher food on every corner, I felt like I was truly home. After that trip I had been to Israel another two times. The first trip I would describe as a tourist trip, touring around the most popular sites of the country. The second trip was a mission trip, visiting different projects my community has started and supported. The third trip was another tourist trip with my school. And this was my fourth time in Israel. I knew it would differ from all of my other experiences, but I did not quite know how. The narrative of our trip was “The Many Faces of Israel.” We visited a Catholic Church, a mosque, a Druze village, a Circassian village, and African asylum-seekers in south Tel Aviv, and we had a panel with both Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel. All of these experiences were extremely eye-opening. They reminded us that although we were in a place where we finally were not the minority, Israel was still home to many. Over this trip I had become aware of the flaws of Israel. Israel is not a perfect country by any means, but my love for Israel has not wavered. If anything, my love for Israel has grown stronger. I have realized that my love for Israel before this trip was almost a blind love. I was made aware of the positive aspects of Israel on my previous trips, but rarely the negatives. Now that I am more aware of Israel’s flaws and mistakes and my love for the country is still strong, it feels as though my love now is more of a valid love. This trip has truly allowed me to strengthen and develop valid opinions on a country that I like to call my home and I will never forget it. 

Rachel Bonder is a student from the Greater MetroWest NJ Jewish community.

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