Today was quite the day here in Israel. Our day started out with us listening to the first director of the Taglit, Avraham Infeld. While speaking he made the point that being Jewish is NOT a language but rather a way of life. I had never taken the time to actually think about this idea, but I feel he couldn't have been closer to the truth. He talked about how there were four different types of Jewish people and how the differences are a troubling fact that must be dealt with. He further goes on to state that there is a way to mediate the problem and that is to do 3 of the 5 things that make up the pillars of our Jewish people. The five things include memory of past events, family, Mount Sinai, the land and the state of Israel, and finally language. These important factors make us who we are and to have at least three of these traits be a part of you it will bring the Jewish people back to a United front. This speech was truly inspiring. It changed my outlook on what it meant to be Jewish. Being Jewish is not just a religion and a language to read, but it is a way of life.
After our speech we went to Theodore Hertzels’ grave and the military cemetery. This truly was moving. I learned that when you are a Jew you always have a home, no matter what happens to you in any other place you are always welcome to Israel. As Raz said “if Hitler felt you were Jewish enough to kill, then you are welcome to Israel no questions asked.” This really hit home for me. I never thought I would feel so proud of not only my people but my country. I also learned that every soldier who died is buried with the same grave stone. This is because in the eyes of G-d we are all equal. Too many bodies laid there at this site, and unfortunately the number will only continue to get larger. Hopefully one day soon Israel won’t have to bury another one of its beloved sons or daughters.
The final place we went today was the old city of Jerusalem. We got to tour the city a bit and found our way to the Western Wall. This site was remarkable. To see a wall built over three thousand years ago was truly unlike any other experience I have ever had. Seeing the wall of the second temple still stand and being able to see things that you only hear about on CNN and what thousands of people have given their life to preserve was indescribable. When I got before the wall I took time to talk to my grandmother and to my aunt, both of which passed away a few years ago. When I got to the wall something inside me gave me the feeling that they were not only listening but they were there. My time there made me realize how great of a place Jerusalem is and how before my life comes to an end I will return to this holy place and spend more time learning about my heritage.
Brad Gross, George Mason University (Jan. 15th 2012)