gap year in israel

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by Ben Rubinstein from Los Altos, California

The first week out of quarantine has been very eventful: from hikes to workshops to finally meeting everyone face-to-face, there’s a lot to speak about. However, this week has made me recall a story I was told in Day School: When Jews would make Aliyah to Israel, I was told that some would run off of the plane and kiss the ground of the Holy Land, finally having stepped foot in a country with so much historical and divine significance.

To me, the most memorable experience I had this week was Tuesday morning. We set our alarms for 6:00AM, crawled out of our beds and put on our shoes. Then, as the clocked turned from 6:29 to 6:30, marking the sunrise, all of us bolted outside. We ran down the street, out of the apartment complex and down Ussishkin street, looking around with wide-eyes at the golden Jerusalem stone and foreign lettering on the signs.

We ran through Sacher Park, seeing the Knesset and Supreme Court of Israel, which stand as a testament to the melding of ancient tradition with modern values. We ran through Shuk Machane Yehuda, and saw vendors still setting up in the early hours of the morning.

As we came back, panting and struggling to climb back up the stairs we bolted down so eagerly earlier that morning, I felt compelled to take a moment and pause. Maybe it was the exhaustion from moving more than 10m in the same direction for the first time in two weeks, maybe it was just relief to be outside, but I like to think it had at least a little to do with finally having taken a step into the Holy Land, and were it not for the virus, maybe even kissing the ground.