“Where are you from?” a common icebreaker question simple for some to answer, while greatly complex for others. Personally, it’s always been easy. “Indiana. More specifically Carmel, right outside Indianapolis.” But ask me where “home” is, and my answer will be much more layered.
I am writing this post shortly before leaving for the Rotherberg School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. After a 10-hour flight from New York I will arrive in the Holy Land at 5:30 AM and begin the next ten months of my life. I am not from Israel and I’ve only ever been there on a 10-day trip for young Jewish adults known as “birthright” two summers ago. Despite this unfamiliarity, this is the place I will be calling home for both my fall and spring semesters.
In some ways, Israel already feels like home to me. It’s the homeland of the Jewish people, a country for those of my faith. I rejoice in knowing that I will be able to experience religious holidays in a Jewish setting. However, there is also a great deal for me still to learn. From the food, to the people, to the weather, Israel is such a different place than Indiana where I have lived my whole life up until this point. The longest I will have ever been away from the Hoosier state before this trip will have been for six weeks, a much smaller number than ten months.
But I am prepared to take on this challenge. I cannot wait to begin making a home out of Jerusalem and Israel. I have a vast list of goals to accomplish-some as small as shopping at the shook (outdoor market) every week for fresh produce and baked goods to grand adventures like visiting the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. I am excited for the numerous friends I hope to make and the countless memories I will create. I am also giddy with anticipation for the things that I could have never known needed to be on that to do list, and I am stoked to have this platform to dissect, analyze, reflect, and share my journey.
Throughout my life, I have made many places into homes. I have been privileged to have my summers filled with a variety of camps and internships, and at each location I learned how to build a home. Now I have the even greater privilege of constructing a home in an entirely different country, and for the first time in my life I will be able to fulfill the phrase all Jews say at the end of their Passover Seders-“!בירושלים הבאה לשנה” “Next year in Jerusalem!”