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Israel day four: Jerusalem, I won’t forget you

January 20, 2013

The holiest part of this religious experience began on Thursday, as we looked forward to going to Jerusalem. However, our entrance to the holiest of the holy cities was delayed a bit, as the city was experiencing snow! It was the first time the city had really seen snow since 2003, and the fact that I saw snow in Jerusalem is something so unique that I can tell it to the grandchildren some day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

TsipporiBefore Jerusalem, we stopped by the city of Tsippori, which is home to more 2,000-year-old ruins. It reminded me of ancient Roman ruins. It wasn’t until Einat said this right here is where it all began for the Jewish people and was the home of all of our ancestors that I began to feel a connection. This experience cannot be taken for granted; there are millions of Jews who never had and will never have the opportunity to visit the land of Israel.

People can talk all they want about how religious and spiritual of a place Israel and Jerusalem can be for Jews returning to the land; it is. There is a feeling of pride and accomplishment and awe that can never be matched. It’s also a feeling that cannot be fully described or understood until you have experienced it for yourself. So try as I might on this blog, I can never fully articulate how it felt to set my eyes on Jerusalem.

Snow in JerusalemWe loaded the buses and were told we would drive into Jerusalem, though it may take awhile due to the snow. As we drove along, all of a sudden, the grassy hills turned to snowy hills. We started to see more buildings. We entered Jerusalem, and the song “Jerusalem” by Matisyahu played on the bus’s stereo system. The smile on my face literally spread from ear to ear. My heart filled with all my ancestors who led me to that moment – the moment I not only returned to the promised land but entered the holiest city on earth.

I was proud to reach this milestone in my life. When I had my Bat Mitzvah service, I felt connected to Judaism, as I read from the Torah and chanted the blessings that had been passed down for thousands of years. It was a moment I still cannot explain. When I entered Jerusalem, I felt a connection to Judaism, to my roots, to the land and to the millions of Jews who have lived around the world in all time. This was for me, this was for my parents and this was for all those who never had this opportunity. Thousands of years after being exiled from the land, the Jews are still here, and it truly is remarkable.

I may be only 19, but this was a moment my ancestors could only imagine was possible. All the odds have been stacked against the Jews for practically our whole existence, but our determination was unmatched and allowed for moments like this. Arriving in Jerusalem evokes a different feeling or reaction in everyone, and this was my moment. And no one can take that away from me.

Disclaimer: My birthright trip to Israel was absolutely incredible, beyond words. However, on this blog, I am trying to use words to describe how absolutely incredible it was. I explain what we did each day and attempt to describe the indescribable: how I felt as I traveled around the Holy Land of Israel. It’s difficult to describe some things because it was a very personal experience, but I’ll do my best. In addition, some things are just too deep or personal to comment on in a blog, but if you would like to discuss or go deeper on anything, feel free to contact me. I would love to talk about it.
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