In This I believe

Gavriela - Saratoga, California
Entered on May 29, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community

I believe everyone has a place, a place where they belong, a place they can live, love, and grow. No one is without a place in this world. I believe because I am a Jew, I will always belong and have a place in Israel. In my opinion, because I am Jewish I will always have a place where I can go and find a community I can be apart of. I will never feel alone in a world that has Israel in it.

When my brother came home from a trip to Poland and Israel commemorating the Holocaust, he told me a story that changed my life. A Holocaust survivor and my brother, Jacob, were looking at the scratch marks inside the walls of the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and the survivor said, “If Israel had existed during WWII, none of this would have happened.” This statement helped me realize the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. If Israel had been in existence during the Holocaust many lives would have been saved. The Jews that were being persecuted would have had a place to go, and a place to escape to, a place that they would be able to be free as Jews. Israel is a place where Jews can go, and be free to practice how they choose, and be who they are, and not have to hide anything.

When I go to Israel, I believe I am immediately part of a community, because most of the people in Israel are Jewish. I automatically have something in common with them. I can start a conversation with them knowing that we can bond over a common aspect of our lives. When I am in Israel, I feel closer to G-d. I think I feel this way because I am surrounded by people who feel the same way. When I am in Israel I do not feel like an outsider, because I am surrounded by Jewish stores, and Kosher restaurants. I will never forget the first time I walked into McDonald’s in Israel, and was able to order my first Happy Meal. I was amazed that all the people surrounding McDonald’s were used to having a kosher McDonald’s. That is something you can only find in Israel!

Being In Israel lets me feel at ease, I do not have to worry about following the laws of Judaism, because Israel makes it easy for me. I am not tempted to go shopping on the Sabbath because all the stores are closed. I have the opportunity to experience Shabbat in my own way. Although there are many different denominations of Judaism, our core beliefs are all similar. I believe Israel is a part of all of us, and Israel helps me be who I am, and makes me who I am.

The first time I traveled to Israel was unforgettable. For the first time in my life I could experience my Judaism in a public setting. As I walked to services on my first Friday night in Israel, I saw everyone walking and I was astounded that I was not the only one whose dad forced her to walk to synagogue. The streets were filled with people walking, and I knew in my heart, even though we had different levels of observance, we all were walking for the same reason, to honor Shabbat. For the first time in my life I felt like I was part of something huge, I was apart of Judaism, and I was not alone in my beliefs.

For 3,000 years my ancestors have prayed and hoped that there would one day be a Jewish State. Now that there is, not only am I connected to Israel, but Israel also connects me to my heritage. Going to Israel and experiencing the country that so many people dreamed about, connects me to them because I can see the dream as a reality.

I, as a Jew, am very connected to Israel. Not only because it is my homeland, but because I am always welcome there. I have a special spiritual connection to Israel, I can not find this kinship anywhere else. Every time I travel to Israel it connects me more to my Jewish beliefs, and allows me to experience Judaism in a new way.