Israel, the beautiful and pure Holy Land
By Dovy Ehrenreich
3 AM is not a fun time to wake up. Surrounded by a chorus of groans and moans and “BOKER TOV”, I lay in my sleeping bag trying to open my eyes. I’d almost forgotten that I stayed the night in a Bedouin tent, in the desert, in Israel, sleeping on the floor with about 50 other Reform Jewish teenagers from around the country. We had been traveling together for weeks, and after enduring the horrors of the concentration camps and the beauty of Eastern Europe and Israel we found ourselves riding camels at the Bedouin tents the night before, learning all about the Bedouin people, literally presented with a homemade feast.
As I finally found the energy to get up and put my hiking shoes on, I grabbed my toothbrush and duffel bag and rushed onto our bus, slowly witnessing all of my exhausted friends slump on and into their chairs, throwing their bags in the aisle. We soon arrived at our destination, well before 5 AM. As I wondered what my friends back in America were doing at 10 PM their time, I hopped off the bus and started to hike up Masada.
My journey to Eastern Europe and Israel this past summer truly changed my life. With the help of the immense generosity from the Jewish Federation and their Youth to Israel scholarship, my summer became an absolutely unforgettable and personal journey, ironically filled to the brim with the multitude of new friends and long-lasting relationships that I created along the way. Simply walking away indifferently from a 6 week trek across sand and sea, across devastating horrors and ultimate magnificence, and across the history of your heritage, is not an option; the intense and enlightening feelings that you experience linger. Israel, the beautiful and pure Holy Land, a place I am connected to and consider a home for myself and all people alike, effortlessly opened my eyes to the world and invited me to embrace my Judaism even more than I had previously thought possible.