I went to Israel. Again. And now I’m back. I’m grateful for the incredible experience and all the wonderful memories.
Its funny because the other day I was out with friends and I was talking about my summer abroad in Germany and my friend joked, that was a Dr. C moment. Dr. C was our manufacturing and materials professor last semester. This professor literally seems to have lived anywhere and everywhere.and has experienced so much in his seemingly young life. People like this inspire me. I want to grow up and be like them. How sad it would be to just stay in and not get to see and or experience the world and the people everywhere.
Tonight brought back these memories of traveling to Israel and a bit with Germany but mainly the Holy Land. See I hung out with one of my new friends from Israel who just so happens to go to my school. After dinner and such we were sitting in my apartment and talking about the differences and similarities and even just the uniqueness in being in Israel. Especially to be Jewish at a christian university is a different experience. For me it has been one of much challenge. Interestingly one of the things my friend pointed out was how each of the class are taught with christian worldview and how it applies and affect the christian life. I am sooooo used to this now, that I don’t even notice it. How sad.
Anyway talking about all the good and beauty that Israel has to offer was amazing. It brought up laughter and taught me how to properly say things. It was nice and fun. However I couldn’t help but notice how sad my friend looked talking about Israel. I can’t even imagine how much my friend must miss it. I have never spent more than 2 weeks there and yet here I am writing and tearing up. Because in Israel you can be you. You don’t feel weird or out of place. Even midst struggle-some thoughts, you are among family. A family around for 2000+ years. I still remember my first few hours in Israel the first time. It looked nearly identical to California that I was convinced we flew in circles around the US for 10+ hours. We arrived at Quesaria and our tour guide picked up a handful of sand. He looked at each and everyone of us. As he let the sand sift through his fingers he spoke. He said, “it’s been 2000 years, welcome home”.
This week has been filled with so many ups and downs – it has been quite a roller coaster to say the least.
However it has been wonderful! I am so grateful to have friends, to have jewish friends, to not feel alone and to go on fun adventures (sometimes, late into the night). I have just been happy and joyful in what I have and what I have been able to do. I am thankful for the laughter and rediculousness of these friend gatherings. Whether for PURIM the other day and giggling like little girls with two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time! To feel inspired the following day by having insightful and challenging discussions with two friends who I have been growing with, even if we are all on different pages going in the same direction. Its beautiful and wonderful and my soul feels such joy in this! Then the ridiculousness of going to support a friend in a show at Disneyland. Forgetting the tickets, traffic and all! haha Then late night breakfast shananigans and being too tired to care. To have friends who pay for our adventures and do it out of pure kindness (at least from what I can see). I just feel beyond blessed by these experiences. To let go of the stress and concerns related to school, even if you can’t do that all the time. To go on adventures and have fun and connect with others, is beautiful and wonderful and oh how I have missed it!!!
Here’s to more joy, celebration and good things G-d willing 🙂
Happy New Year! Now that on the parties have settled down and school is back in session, I have had much time to myself and much time to think and reflect upon last year. 2014 for me was filled with much growth and changes on top of exploring these United States. I was blessed to live in Ohio for 1/3 of the year, to build friendships, be involved in a community and intern for HONDA! I started to learn and practice more Judaism by wearing skirts the second half of the year, reading Shemonei Esrai and reading books on Judasim. I went on dates and had flings with guys that weren’t right. I learned from each experience. Especially the last date I went on, at the very end of the year which taught me so much about myself. It was a great day, we went bike riding and ate lunch. It was fun. However, I broke my tendencies from the past and realized the situation with my head and not my heart and was able to choose to not go further. I learned to not be codependent. I grew this year by making choices that were right for me even if my family or friends didn’t agree. I spent the first half of the year hiking a ton and being outside any chance I could get. I completed a triathlon. I embraced CBU more. I explored OHIO. Learned how to learn even more. I took 19units in one semester and passed all my classes, thank G-d! I went to 22 or so states throughout the year. I spent my celebration of life weekend in Canada at Niagara Falls, with my best friend! I learned to ride a long-board. I lit Shabbat candles. I tried to start an impactful movement (Operation Instant). I took a ton of photos which led to photo adventures. I got sick and had to start eating gluten free. I had a few health scares while in Ohio and I learned how amazing the community is there and how much they are willing to go out of their way for you. I met amazing people and a handful I still keep in touch with, daily, because they are so awesome. I had a hard few months throughout the year, however looking back I am thankful for the support and encouragement my parents or friends or both gave to me during that time. I struggled with school and friends. However, I feel blessed to say that I have a handful of best friends that are there for me through the good and the bad days, for that I am very grateful. I learned so much more about real life and not school-dictated life. I learned more about G-d and His plan for my life. I learned that sometimes if not always, I need to ask G-d for what I need or want and not just expect him to give it to me. I have continued to learn how amazing G-d is and how much He continues to lead me towards what I don’t expect sometimes and how its exactly what I have been wanting or waiting for. I’m thankful for 365 days of adventures some good and some bad, but I’m grateful for the uniqueness in each one of them. I’m grateful to be moving forward. My last note is this, on August 9, 2014, I was at Niagara Falls taking a picture with a sign that said how I was in a fatal car accident and at the time was interning for Honda to help make cars safer. This stranger (young woman) came up to me and shook my hand. She said that is why she wants to be an engineer. It almost brings tears to my eyes. To feel like I impacted even just one life for the betterment of the world, I am thankful. I am grateful for the purpose which G-d has in store for me, and I have no clue what it is. Although 2014 has concluded and the New Year has rung in, I am happy and content with the many blessings of the past year. I am excited and looking forward to what this year has to offer!
Today I can’t help but think about fire. It is a beautiful and powerful resource when maintained and manageable, yet, it can also become something uncontrollable and dangerous. Fire is my favorite element. I like how all it takes is one simple spark and that can turn into a flame and that flame can burn for as long as you allow it. Someone once told me that based on my ideas and beliefs about fire that is how I feel about G-d. When looking at fire in relation to G-d is makes sense. If you allow G-d in your life, you’ve initiated the spark and then praying and living your life in a way that brings glory to G-d is letting the flame burn infinitely.
Today I also cannot help but think about israel and us jewish people and how fire relates to us. With the terror events which have struck Israel and left all of us Jews in a state of shock and sadness. Or at least that’s how I feel. Ever since arriving in Israel during my birthright trip last year, anytime something goes awry in Israel it’s like a piece of me gets inflicted. My love for Israel is something that most of my friends and family don’t understand. I can’t explain it however I will try. It’s like when our plane to Tel Aviv touched down, we clapped. When we got to Cesearia and saw the most beautiful sunset, it felt natural. With the palm trees all around and even running into acquaintances from my home town in the middle of Ben Yehuda street. There is something unique and different about Israel. It felt like home and yet I had never been there before. It felt natural. I didn’t have to prove who I was or what I believed. I was just me. I was Jewish and so were most of the other people. It was so beautiful! It was not perfect and I was even sick half of the time I was on my trip, but the reflective time I had on the bus rides, the adrenaline I got from the extreme hike down Mt. Arbol and even when I went ziplining across two mountains, and the connected, power and fire I felt burning inside me when we reached Jerusalem and specially when I went to the Kotel on Shabbat for the first time in my life. There were tears in my eyes when the plane left. How could I be leaving the Holy Land? I was going back into Exile. Why? I don’t know. I guess I’ve been searching for that answer for quite sometime. Regardless even when I got back to America, as I exited the plane I talked to this young Israeli man who had just finished his service in the army. We periodically still keep in touch. To me this is Israel. This if the Jewish nation, culture and religion.
My birthright trip to Israel was everything and more than what I expected. It also seems like Israel to me is the answer to a question I never asked because I never even knew I had. I am so grateful for Israel, to be Jewish and for the fire burning within me.
There’s a burning fire in each of us. Some strike the match for good, others for evil. Your life. You choose.
I actually went back through and felt like I had to add this song as I started to recall the lyrics as I said my prayer before falling asleep. “Aish talmid eternity, fire burns continuously…wondering where you been won’t you come on home to me”
Here’s to today. Here’s to laughing like no one is watching and not caring even if they do. Here’s to laughing so hard about rediculousness that it doesn’t fully matter what initiated it. Laughter brings much joy to me even in the hardest of times. Laughter lights up the very darkest of nights. I loving laughing and love when people make me laugh. I also love when I remember something that was funny and when I try to retell the story I find myself struggling for words because all I can do is laugh. When I am able to laugh at myself its when I am most confident that I just don’t care what others think. Laughter is a blessing and brings joy and for that I am grateful!
Shalom is hebrew for hello, goodbye and peace. On Shabbat, the sabbath day, we (meaning jews) say Shabbat Shalom. Have a peaceful sabbath. For me, I have always struggled with the concept with Shabbat. That is until recently. I know life is all about finding balance and I am definitely working towards that. Something that I have been realizing more and more is how Shabbat can bring about a serenity that the rest of the week cannot. I find myself at one with myself, with G-d and with others on Shabbat for many reasons.
Here are a few that I have noticed recently when I do embrace Shabbat and stop doing homework for sometime. Whether its an hour, two or a full 25 hours without homework and without concern of school or the rest of the world, has done me good.
1. Disconnecting from the rest of the world, slowing down and taking time to reflect on the week.
2.Time to read, play and learn something other than school.
3.Sleep and rest.
4.Get outside and be active, enjoy the sunshine, ocean waves, the climb up the mountain and even walking around the block.
5.Enjoy a good meal whether its by myself, with friends and/or with family.
Either way Shabbat has a power that cannot be described, you just have to experience it. It seems to me as an opportune time to grow, slow down and embrace the moments. Stop and smell the roses. Not every shabbat is peaceful for me. However shabbat is peaceful when I allow it to be. When I allow myself to enjoy it, the people and the experience around me. I am a work in progress at enjoying Shabbat and finding the right balance. And I am perfectly ok with that.
From Friday sunset until last night, it was Yom Kippur and the Jewish world went into fasting for 25hrs and intense prayers. In the past, I have always struggled with this holiday because it seemed so depressing and not happy. However, this year was different. Not only am I thankful to say that I fasted the entire 25hrs (though I needed water to keep my body without calories). I have never been able to do so thing, and my younger brother joined alongside me and we made it through, thank G-d! I definitely felt as though it was mental toughness game as the hours passed on and my stomach grumbled along, I kept praying or at least trying to. I realized that Yom Kippur is a happy holiday or at least it keeps to the meaning of a Fast of Joy. I think this is because during Rosh Hashana, the gates of heaven open up and throughout the next ten days, we, jews, pray for health, happiness, safety, life and for all good things! Then on Yom Kippur the gates close. Its almost exciting as we connect and grow closer to Hashem, G-d, in the 25 hours prior to this. It feels amazing despite the weakness in your body. Through that weakness I found strength in G-d! I found myself immersed in the feeling of now and when I closed my eyes during the Amidah (silent prayer) I found myself with almost the same feeling I felt at the Kotel, the Western Wall. That feeling is one of transformation as I opened my eyes. It felt as though I was somewhere else and then when my eyes open and see the words in the book and take in my surroundings I am looking at everything that is the same but with new eyes. It is truly a wonderful spiritual experience and I am so thankful for this Yom Kippur experience. May this be a sweet new year for my family, friend, myself, the entire Jewish people and everyone! G’mary Hatimah Tovah!