21 years old
OU-30-722 (Meor Maryland-MJX)
When looking back, one thing I will always remember about Israel is the breakfast selection. I realize the food we ate was hotel/hostel food, but the choice meals were quite different from that served in America. The biggest difference that really stuck out to me was that so many vegetables were served for breakfast. I can’t recall any morning when cucumber salad and bell peppers weren’t an option for breakfast. This healthy first meal always helped start off my day the right way. Eating a healthy high fiber meal in the morning helped keep me nourished through the days. In addition, the vegetables were loaded were so clean and fresh that my stomach never got upset.
This lifestyle choice to eat such a veggie filled breakfast is one that I think more people should follow. Eating cucumbers in the morning is a good way to begin the day. Also, eating healthier makes you more energetic through the day, and keeps the immune system functioning well.
My vote was for LIKUD. The representative Dani shared several ideas that I felt that I could connect and agree with. While some of the other representatives shared very good points, I thought Dani offered opinions that I felt more comfortable supporting. Israel absolutely should protect itself and protection should be a major priority. Like stated in the video, if Israel put down its guns, there would be no Israel. Israel is constantly attacked and I think Israel should definitely protect what is theirs. At the same time, I believe there should be a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians. A negotiation could diminish terrorism.
In a previous post I created a video that explained the most meaningful moment to me while I was in Israel. My most meaningful moment was staying in the Bedouin tents because it was something I have never done before. I've never even went camping. Staying in tents in the desert made me see life in a different way. Some cultures are very accustomed to that type of living situation. Since I had never done something like that before, I was a little out of my element. After waking up the next morning, I realized how privileged I was to have a roof over my head at home. Not everyone needs to live in an apartment or house, but those who have the comfort of having a heated home are very privileged. Some people aren't as fortunate to have a roof, central heating, and air conditioning. Sleeping outside in the tents made me see how much strength and courage it takes to sleep outside. Some people who are homeless have to do that every night. Sometimes it's freezing, other times it rains, and occasionally it's too hot. With my new prospective of how lucky I am to live in the home that I do, I hope to work hard every day so that I can provide my future kids with the opportunities that I have.
Here is the link to the video
1. Attend a Shabbat dinner with the MEOR group at Maryland
2. Attend a Shabbat dinner with the Maryland Hillel
3. Attend a service at the local temple in my hometown Westchester Jewish Center (WJC)
4. Play in a Jewish softball league
5. Go to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.
6. Go back to Israel with MEOR Maryland.
7. Attend a concert for one of the UMD Jewish A Cappella groups.
8. Stay connected with daily news in Israel.
9. Have a one on one learning experience with our own Rabbi K
10. Even though I am not signed up currently I would like to attend at least one lecture from the Maimonides program at the University of Maryland
I studied the weekly portion of the Torah on g-dcast.com. I and my friend and fellow Birthright companion Alex studied this portion. The story was about Balak and his donkey. After hearing the story I reconsidered the main point of the video. What do we miss when we view the things we do? In the story the man is blind to what the donkey sees. Only when G-d communicates to the man through the donkey does he really understand the signs around him.
Overall the practical life lesson I learned from this examination of this portion of the torah was that sometimes our gut isn’t helping us make the most logical decisions. The point of view of another person or group of people can open our eyes to a perspective that we can’t always interpret with our own eyes. This isn’t to say that our gut is right or wrong, but much like the story we sometimes can’t see all there is to see. Our gut is often what helps us make decisions, but we need more than our gut. If we can open our eyes to the reality that life presents us with, we can see more than meets the eye. In life, not everything is going to be spelled out clearly for us. In order to make educated decisions, we need to consider the reasons for our actions and the implications our actions may have on others. Like the story, sometimes we need that donkey (metaphorically) to help us see the light that is knowledge.
In the photo with me is my closest friends Alex and Nate. Alex was also a member of the same birthright trip that I went on. Since going on birthright, Shabbat has developed a different meaning to me. Shabbat is truly a day of rest and relaxation. It is the kind of day that everyone could use once a week. What I began to realize after my trip was that Shabbat is so important due to the busy lifestyle that we live. I know at school I am constantly pounded with homework, tests, and other assignments. Having one day of relaxation a week could make a huge difference in my overall stress levels as well as my overall happiness. The dedication that the Jews in Israel have to Shabbat is amazing. Everything is closed, phones are away, and life is all about enjoying the natural world. For a day each week, there is peace. Peace is what everyone should have once a week. Such relaxation and rest is healthy and essential to beginning the upcoming week. A calm and unstressed mind can spawn new and innovative ideas much better than a cluttered, tense mind. In the future, I would like to try to take more steps toward celebrating Shabbat every week. To me Shabbat is a necessity. It is a time to celebrate a hard worked week by taking a day off. If enough people celebrated Shabbat I think that happiness levels would really spike. Without a day off people go crazy. Shabbat in a good way forces you to relax. With my new respect for this weekly occurrence, I hope to incorporate more aspects of Shabbat into my lifestyle.
My Hebrew name is Shmuel. In English, Shmuel roughly translates to Samuel. I was given this Hebrew name at an age younger than I could remember. If I had to guess, I would say that this name was given to me at the early stages of my Hebrew school career. This name was most likely given to me because of the rough translation of Shmuel to English meaning Samuel. Samuel is not my actual name. Sam is my birth certificate name. Most people think my name is Samuel because of cultural norms in America. I think this reasoning attributed to my naming. After going on birthright, I will always feel a different connection to the name Shmuel. The name Shmuel has taught me to respect my own name more. At the Western Wall, a man asked me why my name wasn’t Shmuel. He said “Sam is a bad name, Shmuel is a great name,” he said. I’ve thought about that moment almost every day since I left Israel. What the man didn’t realize is that while Shmuel means something amazing to him, Sam means something spectacular to me. Sam is the special name I was given at birth. I’m not Samuel, I’m just Sam. This simple name is surprisingly unique in American culture. Very few people are just named Sam. When I asked around in my Birthright group, I found out there were several other Shmuels, but not other Sam’s. This experience will always remind me what my name means to me. Every time I here the name Shmuel, I will always recall that moment when I gained a new appreciation for my birth name.
Answered by Meor Maryland's Rabbi Koretzky
1. Since you’ve taken multiple birthright trips, what do you find original and fascinating that makes every experience different?
A: The people. Each time I see the country through the lenses of a new group of unique students.
2. What would it mean to you as a trip organizer to bring the soldiers back to America? From my understanding, Meor Maryland hasn’t won this competition under your supervision yet.
A: We actually have won before, the first time they had the competition. We came in a close second the next two times. It would be awesome to win again, to bring these soldiers to our homes and bring the group back together for such a special purpose.
3. What is your favorite part about the every day Israeli lifestyle (etc customs, traditions, food, leisure)?
A: I love the closeness and openness of the people.
4. What about Israel or the Jewish religion would you change if you could pick something? This change doesn’t represent something that you think is wrong or bad about the culture. It is simply something that you might think is grey area or a custom you think could be performed differently.
A: A bit too much beurocracy at times in the Holy Land.
5. What is your favorite place to visit in Israel? If you do not have a favorite place/site, then which places/sites are your favorites to go to?
A: Jerusalem. Duh.
6. If you could make one Israeli custom or tradition a daily routine in American society what would it be? This could be something religious, lifestyle related, or really just anything?
A: Give America that unique sense of family, that pulsating, alive vibe that I only feel there.
7. What is one place or activity that you think should be a future place, site, or activity that should be emphasized on future birthright trips?
A: I can’t think of one place, I just think it’s critical that people go BACK to explore the land and the heritage more deeply.
8. In your opinion, what scenery is the most dazzling to see in Israel? This could be Masada, Ben Gurion’s grave, or even a site we didn’t visit.
A: I love the lush environs of the north, and also the vast desert landscapes of the south – like at Sde Boker (Ben Gurion’s grave). If I had to pick somewhere to stay long term though, other than Jerusalem, it would be the north.
9. What food that is more typical to the Israeli diet do you wish would be served more often with American meals?
A: I’ll go with your answer – vegetables
10. What tradition of Judaism do you think would be beneficial if it were a common part of American culture?
A: A focus on truth as an objective virtue, as opposed to a relativistic ethic. But that’s a deep answer with too much to develop for a short response.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg stated some very noteworthy points in his article called “The Use of Physical Pleasure”. As talked about in the article, we must enjoy physical pleasure while learning how to control and harness it. Simply swallowing a candy bar isn’t as satisfying as enjoying a candy bar bite by bite. People in modern day society should take the time to enjoy the physical pleasures of life.
As an athlete who constantly finds himself thirsty, I can relate to this. Often when I am dehydrated, I will chug a bottle of Gatorade or another refreshing drink. Usually, my need for water outweighs my need to enjoy the pleasure of taking a sip of a refreshing drink when I’m so thirsty. Slowly drinking the drink would help me be less thirsty, while allowing me to enjoy the full pleasure of a delicious drink.
Another point I could relate to was “Get Your Money’s Worth”. So many people don’t realize that it can be pleasuring to get your money’s worth. Something I try to keep in mind when making a purchase is if I’ll get my money’s worth. Often, I will spend the extra money on a nicer product if I think I’ll use it often, and it will last long. I would rather pay more money for something that I can enjoy longer, than spend less money on something that will break easily or be useless.
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AboutThe 100 Point Challenge is an opportunity for returning Taglit-Birthright participants to TRY a variety of Jewish activities, find those activities that they LOVE and want to continue to LIVE. Bring Israel Home participants can choose to complete any Jewish activity that speaks to them to earn 100 points. 50% or more of the American participants in a participating Taglit-Birthright bus must earn 100 points on the Bring Israel Home website within three months after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to earn a Bring Israel Home reunion. The Bring Israel Home 100 Point Challenge is divided into two milestones. Participants must earn 50 points within the first month of returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience to qualify for the following milestone. After achieving the first milestone, participants have two months to earn their final 50 points of Jewish activity. The milestones are clearly outlines below:MilestonesMilestone 1: 50% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 50 points of Jewish activity in the first month after returning from their Taglit-Birthright experience. Milestone 2: 50% of a Taglit-Birthright bus must complete 100 points of Jewish activity in the two months after achieving Milestone 1. Travel Stipends*:
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At The Maimonides Fellowship, you will have the opportunity to meet with like-minded peers with a choice of over 100 locations nationwide. The program meets 1x a week for 10 weeks and includes an exciting Shabbaton Weekend Retreat. The weekly meetings include FREE food, along with dynamic discussion on HOT topics relating to Israel and Judaism. Upon completion, Fellowship participants typically receive $300-$500 CASH or a FREE/Highly subsidized trip!
Take part in interactive classes from the comfort of your own home with the JU Max online learning program. Classes are all live, online, and interactive with top notch presenters. Participants who complete the entire class will be eligible for a FREE TRIP BACK TO ISRAEL and can also receive college credit*. NOTE: JU Max is only available to students and young professionals who do not live near a local Maimonides Class option. To see the list of local options, CLICK HERE.
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