How Do New Experiences Shape Who You Are?

The night of December 8 was my first encounter with the word “blizzard.” I will be honest, I liked it. Everything was coated in white from all the snow. I was excited to see how pretty it was. I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to do a tour around my white-coated home. I walked and listened to the sound of silence. This was wonderful, but was it the most meaningful experience from my first six months in the U.S.?

In the last six months I have gotten an understanding about how the U.S. and Israel are similar, but also different. In the U.S. we have almost half of the Jewish population. In Israel, we can find most of the other half. Even though most of the Jewish population lives in these two countries, we find it hard to have a Jewish conversation. What would the questions be? How will we need to react here in the U.S. to the Pew report? What will be the future of the conservative movement be? Why aren’t the ultra-Orthodox part of the IDF? We will find these great gaps of interest between our two Jewish cultures.

Here in Indianapolis I have found myself as a two-way bridge. I bring to this community Israel and I take the U.S. Jewish culture with me. I see us as one big community. In the future, we will need to use more bridges between our two cultures. To be able to get to know the Israeli culture better, we will need to have real conversations with Israel. We need to have a real connection to Israel. We need to be there.

Here in our community we have already built bridges that are waiting for you. Birthright is a free 10-day trip to Israel for ages 18-26. MASA offers internships in Israel in a large variety of fields. Partnership programs like “The Same Moon” match you with a family in Israel from our Partnership area who will bring you to Israel or will bring Israel into your home. You can host an Israeli JCC camp counselor for 10 weeks in the summer.

These are all wonderful opportunities to build a connection between our two cultures and start a Jewish conversation. If you want to be a “bridge” and to learn more about Israel, I will be very happy to provide you with a suitable program.

Roy Swisa


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