Wow what a hectic first month it has been in Israel, so many new people, places and unpronounceable Hebrew words, I don’t quite know where to begin. Jerusalem’s midwinter rain may have initially sent shockwaves through our systems, but an incredible OzSem more than compensated for a cold Israel. A Photo quest through the Shuk and Machane Yehuda fostered friendships with our interstate counterparts, and after only one week a united group had formed. Next to AZYC seminar where inter-youth movement discussions opened our eyes to the range of ways young Jews choose to connect o their religion and Zionism. Unfortunately the end of AZYC Seminar marked the separation between MTA and Limmud as each program embarked on their own journey.
Speaking for MTA, we were greeted by a lovely group of South Africans with a completely different lexicon, leaving us wondering what ‘okes’ were and what ‘chupping something’ meant. The fact that the Americans couldn’t distinguish between the Australians and the South Africans is a testament to the strong bonds formed in MTA seminar.
Having been at Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) for little more than two weeks we have barely had time to catch our breath. Our first week at yeshiva was bookended by Shabbatonim as Gush’s Annual Chutznik (non-Israeli) Shabbaton in Tzfat provided opportunity for us to bond with our Northern Hemishpere counterparts whilst an MTA seminar in Tel Chai provided a welcome opportunity to compare notes with friends at other institutions. Our next Shabbat was hardly a rest either as we had a beautiful Shabbat Zachor, highlighted by a Kabbalat Shabbat Choir and an auction for Aliyot.
Yeshivat Har Etzion has been incredible to date, as we are given the opportunity to learn with and ask questions of some of the best minds of our generation. An intimate learning environment in which students from all over the world can learn together and everyday conversations with everyday Israelis allow us to better understand both Israeli and international Jewish culture. The Yeshiva possesses an incredible hunger to learn and acquire, motivating us newbies to push ourselves further.
If the rest of the year is anything like the whirlwind first month, I will be stoked.
Best Wishes to all back home,