I went to the Mizel Holocaust Museum in Denver. I learned about Jewish assimilation during and after the holocaust in Denver alone---a topic I've never covered in my Holocaust studies given how niche a location. It's always very shocking and sad to witness the artifacts survivors bring to museums in telling their horrible stories.
At Temple Emanuel, where I attended a passover service, they were collecting Tzedakah on behalf of homeless people in the community; the program is called K’vod Catering. I bought food which would be paid forward to the homeless.
I attended a service at Temple Emanuel for passover. I've lived right by it for 4 years and this was my first time attending. They had a food drive going on outside and a service inside--it was a kind community.
I hosted a Shabbat dinner for my friends in Denver -- some of them are jewish but had never celebrated Shabbat (my now favorite jewish holiday). My friends all dressed up and I made them turn off their phones after this picture (my favorite part about Shabbat).
The most important part of my birthright trip was reflecting on my identity. As a 26 year old, I don't spend much time introspecting on my identity -- at least not nearly as much time as I did as an adolescent. I had 10 whole days to not think about my phone, work, or life at home. I thought about the people around me, how I interacted with them, and how my interactions were reflections of my inner-self. I painted this of my friend, Clara; I finished it yesterday. I was inspired to paint her after birthright because she happens to be a person whose outward identity has changed immensely over the years I've known her. I don't just mean her pink hair -- her identity fluctuations run deep. Without getting into detail about her identity, I painted her this painting because I wanted to remind her that she is always the same person. She changes, her environment and friends change, and her entire body and skin changes, but she is still essentially the same person. The glitter in the painting was meant to remind her that her identity radiates from remembering her childhood. If she can remember who she was as a little girl, she can remember who she is meant to be today. Part of my jewish birthright experience was reminding me of this notion; that who we are is something that can be remembered.
My mom recently conducted a genealogy report on myheritage.com and found records of what my great grandmother did as a living (was a bookkeeper at a library) and great grandfather did (was a taxi driver). I believe they made $30 a week living in the tenement homes. My grandma lived in the tenement homes as a child, although they weren't called the tenement homes. Both sides of my families are eastern-european Ashkenazi jews (making me about 98% Ashkenazi jewish), and I love being told the stories of how different couples came together. I recently saw my great aunt in New York, and she recalled how my grandma met my grandpa: my grandma's sister and my grandpa's sister conspired to have a shared bedroom together as children (in the tenement homes) and therefore set up my grandparents so they can have more freedom. I thought the story was endearing and incredible just imaging their housing situation.
Traditionally, my family recalls family history through making fun of little stereotypically-jewish habits (i.e. my great grandma always had way too many collected towels and insisted her children and grandchildren always take her towels when going to summer camp).
One way I will perpetuate my judaism is by retelling my family's history. My grandparents usually are too disturbed to discuss in detail who they knew directly affected by the holocaust, but they always love retelling their years as children in America after the great depression as hardworking jewish citizens. They also are all about food (both sides of my family), so I will attempt to carry on my grandparents' legacy of top-notch kugel, matzo-ball soup, and the like.
After celebrating passover with my friends in Denver, I flew to Chicago for the week and had a belated Passover with family. My mom makes the best kugel and throws latkes into the mix just for fun. My step dad prepared the brisket, and hid the Afikoman, a dog dessert, for the child of the family (our dog). I've always loved passover, especially with family. It honestly was the only jewish holiday we seemed to celebrate most consistently year-to-year, likely because of its distinct ritual. We choose our own prayer handbook to read from, and prefer to make modern interpretations of the holiday (i.e. discussing what makes us feel figuratively "shackled" in our day-to-day lives and how to overcome). This actually was the jewish holiday this year that crystalized that I should move home to Chicago (am moving next month).
I️ attended a Passover/Shabbat dinner with my jewish friends in Denver. We read from the Haggada and then had matzo ball soup, kugel and brisket. Many people brought their grandparents' kugel recipes-- it's always a competition. I brought the Charoset, the only part of the meal I always end up bringing (it's easy and delicious). It was really nice to reflect on the holiday as modern millennials with similar jewish upbringing -- we all have very similar interpretations of our judaism. We celebrate every year, but this year I had already been to birthright, so I had more stories to bring to the table.
I'm a woman so can't visit a synagogue and request wearing a Tefillin, to my knowledge. I'm sure there are more liberal leaning synagogues that would endorse women connecting their minds to their hearts-- just haven't found one yet. In solidarity with the jewish belief that we should have a mind/body connection, I consider this challenge completed! Lets close the points gap :)
I went to Congregation Yeshuat Tsion in Denver and brought a friend. A local artist Sally Klein O'Connor, sang songs, making the service very musically up-lifting. However, I had not realized that the artist was Messianic Jewish, which is not my faith in particular. I should have done my research, but the synagogue I went to is community-based and offers many different religious point of views week-to-week. I just picked the wrong week, personally. Oops.
One of my besties from my Birthright trip, Olya, visited me in Denver for the weekend! We celebrated Shabbat our way by catching up on our lives since the trip and talking about the trip to her two friends who were also visiting. We didn't eat kosher, but we did eat ALOT, drank beer in the absence of wine, and solidified just how important birthright was to our friendship.
Met with a birthright bestie, brought my best friends in Chicago together, and led a shabbat prayer, dinner, and party! It was fun, intimate and good for the soul!
I went to University of Denver's Hillel Shabbat. It took place in an admin's household. I felt weird at first because most of the attendees were college students and so I didn't have as much in common with them as I did with my fellow birthright pals, but the food (challah, wine, vegetables, and grocery store-bought side dishes) put me in my element. My favorite part of this shabbat dinner (like my favorite part of shabbat in Jerusalem), was the absence of cellphones. No cell phones means more sincere, and engaged interaction. I want to keep doing this with my friends, once a week.
I love this activity because if there's something any religion should be able to accomplish, it's the spreading of happiness. I've been very involved in the art of happiness since I got back from Israel. Being detached from my phone for two weeks was enough to soothe my mind and freeing myself to connect with strangers was enough to revamp my appreciation for life in general which of course, equates to happiness. I've recently began reading "The Alchemist" and started a positivity blog. I read a new self-affirmation every morning. Happiness is not a destination, but rather an ongoing road that we can easily veer off of time to time if we don't work to stay on the road. This video just reminded me how my own culture led me to Israel, and Israel incited purpose; that purpose is living truthfully and happily.
I read "Four Perfect Pebbles" by Marion Blumenthal Lazan. Reading stories based on Holocaust survivors' experiences during the Nazi Germany time period is disturbing and visceral. I can understand how the zionist movement strengthened morale and hope across jewish communities for so long after experiencing such disturbing oppression.
It was clear that Palestinian Arabs and Jews assimilated/integrated differently since the 1948 war. Similar to American history, immigrants from different countries are treated differently over time and influences current politics/ideologies. In a way, watching this reestablishes what I already know about human nature, which is "in-group" and "out-group" psychology. Xenophobia occurs because people have a hard time letting go of trauma that was inflicted before they were even born.
I read Khirbet Khizeh by S. Yizhar in which I read about Israel through the lens of an Israeli soldier. Like any soldier in the world, they daydream about getting back to a peaceful, at home lifestyle. They miss their friends and family, and will do whatever they're told because it's their duty even if they don't believe in it. Israelis mature so fast because they face death so early in life and recognize what means most to them: their family and their dreams. It's no wonder Israel is the "Start Up Nation."
My friend Shoshanna, from a predominantly jewish town in Boston, hosted a friends shabbat dinner. Most of us at the table were raised secular and lost a lot of our memory of the tradition. We pretty much all cooked our favorite jewish foods (kugel, latkes, matzoh ball soup) and ate challah and drank wine. I always feel nostalgic and at home surrounded by individuals with similar jewish backgrounds and a shared love for jewish food <3
I've never thought of self-esteem through a religious lens -- I always thought of it as something that has to be intrinsically motivated. However, after watching the video I (re)learned that in judaism, self-esteem could be fostered through believing God gave us life to live out a shared purpose. I interpreted the video as saying that if everyone seeks to maximize their self esteem through finding and living their purpose, the world becomes a better place.
Oh please, as if this was a hard activity. I went to Zadies in Denver. My stomach thanked me. Kugel, lox, all the things. These are my comfort foods for life. I bring my friends here. They’re like thank you jessica for being Jewish and knowing the best Jewish eats. You’re welcome, I say. Lchaim.
I visited National Museum of American Jewish Military History in DC. I learned a lot about the IDF— their personal, physical, familial, and emotional struggles. It reminded me that people continue to fight a war heavily rooted from xenophobia even though we have come so far.
I volunteered for a local Jewish food pantry that my local Hillel referred me to. We helped compile all the donated goods- ie cans, local
Grocery store “spoils” and boxed meals and disburse among homeless families who attend services at the community regious center. Volunteering has never felt intrinsically Jewish, but doing so through a Jewish community made me proud of my culture
I visited my hometown’s synagogue yesterday at Solel Congregation. The experience was reformed and nostalgic - the prayers, songs, sounds, smells and community brought back my childhood. As a 26 year old I was more able to apply the teachings to my own life.
I met with my hometown Cantor about what it was like to be a rabbi as a woman. She discussed some of the same adversities that women in any workplace experience. Her job was always worth the barriers she faced as it expressed her faith and love for guiding others’ faith.
I read Start-Up Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. As an entrepreneur, I found a whole new appreciation for the state of Israel. In the case of Israel, political turmoil has become a fuel for citizens to pursue their ideas and the skills they learn serving their country become a silver lining. I work for a Mergers and Acquisitions company that represents shareholders--many of which live in Israel. I can see why we do business in Israel now, and my fantasy is getting to represent my US-based company and helping to conduct business in Israel.
Reading articles like this and reflecting on my time in Israel, I find it surreal that I was unscathed and able to be shielded by conflict. There I was, in a country smaller than the average US state. Up on a hill, to my right was Syria and to my left was Lebanon. Surrounded by countries with political turmoil it's hard to imagine Israel without its own political turmoil. When I see articles about incipient military take-overs, I also remember the liberals of Tel Aviv and the peaceful day of Shabbat. Humanity is so flawed but also so beautiful, and it's crazy to me how far away any resolution seems.
"Les Belles Femmes" -- a painting I made when I was a young girl. My mom turned them into cards and helped me sell them at art fairs. I consider this a part of my jewish identity because my love for painting and integrity in sharing my art with others roots from my jewish mother's encouragement. I grew up with lots of jewish friends with jewish mothers and I couldn't help but always feel that they had a certain kind of warmth (and funniness) to their nature. When I meet a new friend's jewish mom, I instantly feel connected to them-- like they are all family. This painting was a salute to women, a gesture not possible for an 8-year-old without a strong, inspiring, creative, and warm mother from a lineage of many warm mothers.
I'm 26 and a working professional -- I'm very open to opportunities to work within startups at a country I felt happy in to both leverage my career and life!
While in the the Bedouin tents, my birthright group had the opportunity to speak with a representative from the Masa group who told us about the various opportunities in different fields that we could experience if following through with the program. We also talked about it in Jerusalem as facilitated by our birthright advisor.
I was bat-mitzvahed when I was about 13 years old so felt strange doing it again and therefore didn't. However, I'm writing here anyway to add that I wish I had. I was reminded that a "mitzvah" is something one can do over and over in life. I loved listening to everyone in my group speak about their mitzvah. I had the pleasure of listening and empathizing with every individual's story and any urge I had to have my own speaking opportunity was because I was inspired by everyone's vulnerability. My mitzvah is to continue to inspire vulnerability in others by being vulnerable myself. Living my own truth contributes to a happier and healthier world.
Be inspired by Mayim Bialik and 5 other young individuals who followed their passions - hip hop, environmental sustainability, TV and more - to overcome challenges and effect change. See how they stood by their convictions and find out what it takes to make your own mark.Earn 10 bonus points by completing this badge.
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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*:
Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the State of Israel - engage with its history and people, get the facts on Israel's hot topics and discover why Israel is so central to world news and politics. In Israel Inside/Out, animated diagrams and interactive footage give you an insider's view into one of the world's most intriguing and mystifying countries – no airfare required.
The series features commentary from world-renowned experts on Israel and the Middle East, including Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz and Princeton professor Bernard Lewis.Earn 10 bonus points by completing this badge.
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Shabbat in Israel give you a taste of something delightful?! You can continue to keep that feeling alive by completing the Shabbat badge. Complete the two activities below and earn an additional 10 point bonus!
What is happiness? Am I happy? Can I become happier? What do happiness and Judaism have to do with each other, anyway?
Get the answers to these questions as well as the secret to being happier with Jerusalem U's new series Habits of Happiness featuring world-renowned Positive Psychology expert Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar.Earn 10 bonus points by completing this badge.
Complete these activities to go on a hevily subsidized Israel 2.0 Trip or Internship program. Complete the all activities below to earn a 10 point bonus (in addition to the activity points)!
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Judaism 101 provides a broad overview of Jewish thought and insight. Course topics include Love and Relationships, Achieving Success, Gossip, Kabbalah, the History of Jerusalem, and Jewish Contributions to World Values.Earn 10 bonus points by completing this badge.
Masa Israel Journey is the leader in immersive international experiences in Israel for young adults (18-30). Masa's diverse portfolio of study abroad, internship, service learning, or Jewish studies programs help you grow—as a person, a professional, and a leader— while also developing a robust global professional network. Since its founding in 2004, over 120,000 young people from more than 60 countries have participated in Masa Israel programs.Earn 10 bonus points by completing this badge. Note: Masa Israel Journey is intended for North American participants only. Unfortunately, Israeli participants are not eligible for Masa.
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.
Classes are Monday evening 9-11PM EST.
The next course runs from Feb 12 -April 16.
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