Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sparks of Independence

The tour guide was amazing, and the air conditioner felt great, but I was still exhausted and distracted as we were sitting at Independence Hall listening to Ben-Gurion’s speech. I had been here so many times, that I started feeling complacent about Israel’s independence. That is, until I looked around and saw the reactions of my group mates. The tour guide had just started playing “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, and we all stood up to sing along. As I looked over, I saw two of the girls, sisters, hugging in an almost tearful embrace. The intense sense of emotion they displayed struck a chord within me. Their faces looked as excited and eager as I imagine the face of Ben-Gurion looked as he announced Israel’s independence.

To me, standing up for Israel has always been the obvious choice, maybe even the natural choice. I was born here, experienced much of my childhood here, and even served in the army here.  My extensive and unique experiences in Israel are much of the driving force behind my strong desire to advocate for Israel on my campus. But today, on the first day of our BlueStar trip I came across a phenomenon I had never thought about before: Much of our group is not Jewish!

This concept is foreign yet fascinating and motivating for me. I know why I advocate for Israel, but why do they?

I asked my two roommates, who do not have a Jewish or Israeli background, why they are here. Their answers made me smile- they see Israel for what it is, a country that is fighting for its existence, and they feel that it is their duty to support Israel and the Israeli people.  As the day progressed, I got to know some of my fellow trip mates, and I became more and more inspired by their stories.

Even though every one of them was on the trip for a different reason, our common denominator is our passion to learn more about Israel. Hearing the emotion and enthusiasm of my fellow trip mates as we walked through independence hall, or the old city of Jaffa, rekindled the spark of excitement within me.  


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