By Liora Hyman
We’ve been talking all summer about changes: changes within ourselves, changes within our group, new experiences, and new challenges. This past week we met our Israeli counterparts, and what a challenge it was! The language barrier was not as hard as I had originally anticipated, leaving me with a mixture of relief and guilt in not having to learn to speak fluent Hebrew in a short amount of time. My pre-conceived notions of 15-year-old Israelis were knocked out of place, and in their place formed relationships I’ll cherish forever. How I could have ever thought I’d have nothing in common with them is a mystery to me now.
It’s funny how similar we were, at least for me, with a name they could pronounce on the first try. We celebrated Shabbat together, and we had the best time teaching them our “camp customs” respectively.
The group traveled to several places, including the Golan Heights. Hearing their home perspective versus our limited knowledge from the States was eye-opening and shocking at times, including having a discussion about conflicts with bordering nations, and being able to hear bombs in Syria in the distance, telling ourselves we were safe. We have learned a lot, both about the conflicts between Israel and other countries and about the parallel lives the Israeli teens have lived in comparison to our sheltered lives at home.
The past 3 weeks were amazing, but this last week with our new friends made my trip that much more special. As the trip begins to come to a close, I’ve had time to reflect on all I’ve learned, and how in the world I’m going to explain all of this to my family back home. Maybe one accomplishment I can show is now I can proudly say I can count all the way to 53 in Hebrew!