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Israel day six: Jewish American vs. American Jew

January 20, 2013

Shabbat in a religious city proves to be a very lazy day in terms of not being able to use the bus to travel, having time to sleep in and not having much scheduled programming. On that Saturday in Jerusalem, we walked to the Knesset building (the Israeli parliament), learned about Israeli music, celebrated the end of Shabbat and had a Jewish identity program.

The Jewish identity program consisted of a discussion about the values that are important to us as Jews. Did we care about marrying Jewish? What about raising our kids Jewish? What emphasis was there on the Torah teachings, attending Shabbat services and spending time with family? How did we feel about Israel? It was fascinating to hear people’s takes on these things because they are questions I had begun to ask myself.

I won’t go into detail, but especially after this trip, I feel even more connected to my Judaism, my roots and Israel. It is important to me to pass down the Jewish teachings to future generations and continue this faith that has progressed throughout the centuries. I have always seen myself as a Jewish American – an American with the added quality of being Jewish – especially because of my emphasis on how American history is my history, which is part of why I enjoy studying it above all else. But after this experience, I see myself more as a American Jew – a Jew with the added quality of being American – and am even prouder to be one because now, I understand more about what it means to be Jewish. The Jewish quality is, I think, the more important one, and that is why it’s the noun in my description of myself.

The other fascinating thing that happened on Saturday occurred when the group had the to chance find dinner and shop on Ben Yehuda Street. This should have been easy – eat somewhere, go shopping. But for the group of girls I was with, it turned into a whole ordeal because of a certain waitress. It’s a very long story, so here are the footnotes: she pawned off a messed up order on us, never brought us water, never brought us silverware, misled us regarding the bill, decided 45 shekels in change was enough when the actual change should have been 84 shekels (this was rectified) and tried to fix everything by finally bringing us the pizza we actually ordered as we stood at the bar to pay the check we didn’t trust her to split correctly. One person spoke to the manager about her, and we learned she would not be back tomorrow.

A heck of an adventure, but as Jews, we did what Jews apparently do best: complain. Complained to the manager, complained about the service charge and finally took care of the situation.

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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