gap year in israel

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Hello to all the Selah crew for 2016-2017!

Now that we have finished last year’s program I am already looking forward to next year and with Shavuot coming up I thought I’d share a few thoughts and a photo with you.

On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, a short story about Ruth, the non-Jewish Moabite, who follows her mother-in-law Naomi physically towards Israel and spiritually towards Judaism. Ruth is very poor and supports herself and Naomi by going out to the fields to collect leftover crops. She falls in love with Boaz a wealthy landowner, they get married and she is rescued from poverty. That’s the story, in brief.

Ruth is Judaism’s first convert; she is also King David’s ancestor. Converts are amazing people. They actually choose to be Jewish because they want to. They see something meaningful, exciting and true about Jewish life and ritual. Sadly there are many people born Jewish that never get to see Judaism in this way. Maybe this is part of why Ruth is such an inspiration

The story of Ruth takes place during the harvest season. I don’t know how well you know your agriculture, but for farmers the harvest is just one small part of the yearly cycle. They still have to gather the crop, separate the wheat from the chaff and thresh the wheat and barley. They then have to grind and mill to get flour. All this just to eat some bread!

There is real symbolism behind having Shavuot in the harvest season. Shavuot is all about us committing to Judaism, the Jewish people and to God. But the harvest is just the first stage in the process.
So can I ask? What parts of your Jewishness have you been planting this last year? Are you ready to reap and cut? What’s growing in your Jewish harvest? How will your Jewish crop look at the end of the agricultural cycle?

This is a real question. What do you want to work on over the coming year? Do you know yet? Your Shabbat experience? Your spirituality or your kindness? Your dietary habits, your relationship with your parents or your love of Israel? Is it your Jewish learning? As I said, a real question.

Finally I leave you with this stunning picture by Israeli artist and photographer Adi Nes. It is called “Ruth and Naomi – Gleaners.” Nes likes to bring biblical characters to modern day Israel and here he sets up Ruth and Naomi as two poor ladies collecting leftover onions from the streets of Tel Aviv. What do you think?

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael