Sometimes, in the hastiness of our lives, we drive ourselves crazy in our endeavors to achieve a temporal objective. We might find ourselves working long hours to provide for our children’s every last need, changing locations in order to obtain the promotion we always pursued, or even studying so diligently for the next exam that we forget it’s the weekend.
So, you decide to put everything on hold and, in making the proper decision, use your summer break to travel as far as possible. You go to tour…explore…try new things. You go in search of a good time and, most importantly, you find yourself thinking! You cross the Atlantic to a place where you don’t understand the language. You ride camels, crawl in tunnels, dive, jump, rappel, ride and even wake up at 3:00 a.m. to climb a mountain, just to watch the sunrise. But, then, you find yourself in places that make you think in ways you never thought before. You ask questions and learn about yourself, life, and the world around you.
So many questions! Here are some of my favorites: How come the Jews didn’t always have a state? How can people live in the desert? Am I Jew, Jewish or Jew-ish? Does G-d exist? What do I want to be when I grow up?
We know Israel as the state of the Jews. It is a place where we can find shelter in difficult times, a place where we can always relate to one another, a place where we cherish our common history. “ Being Jewish means you should visit Israel at least once in your lifetime,” said one of the teens.
I spent this past June in Israel with 15 amazing teens from Palm Beach County - the Jewish existence at its best. It is clear to me that this was amongst the most life-changing experiences for each one of the participants of Gesher Hai. They had the time of their lives! Gesher Hai was even an opportunity for my personal time to think. I pondered over my past along and dreamt about my future. I asked questions about my beloved country and realized its other role as the perfect place to take a break for reflection, to learn about ourselves, and to become better people.