Reporting from Israel – We have reached our sixth week in Israel, and it is as if we have just arrived. Through my experiences in Israel thus far, I have been able to recognize significant differences between life as an Israeli and life as an American.
This past weekend, the Tiferet delegates were paired off and invited into the homes of Israeli families. As we each went our separate ways to moshavim and kibbutzim in the Tel Aviv area, such as Nirit, Yarchona, and Einat, we were given the opportunity to experience and observe Israeli lifestyle.
When I hear the term moshav, my mind wanders to the image of a traditional, farm-like settlement. Although this icon did not correlate to the reality of the moshav, the strength of community within the settlement was resonant.
After arriving at my Israeli buddy’s home Friday evening, and being warmly greeted by her parents, we went to take a walk through the forest. When my buddy suggested this, I was a bit confused at first. Contrary to going to a movie or eating lunch, as we would normally do back in Los Angeles, we hiked through the woods. At the peak of the hill, we met all the other kids from the moshav.
As we listenened to the Israeli techno music blasting from a little tractor on the field, surrounded by nature, I recognized the free spirited quality of Israeli life. Something as simple as sitting on a wooden picnic bench surrounded by trees kept us all amused for hours.
As we listenened to the Israeli techno music blasting from a little tractor on the field, surrounded by nature, I recognized the free spirited quality of Israeli life. Something as simple as sitting on a wooden picnic bench surrounded by trees kept us all amused for hours. The intimate relationship between the moshav residents led me to consider the vacuous relationship I have with my neighbors in Los Angeles.
Later that night we went to a traditional Bedouin restaurant for dinner. At this point in the trip, I have learned that Jews in Israel are not necessarily more religious than those who live outside the land. Yet, I did not expect this from the family I was staying with. We went through the night without reciting one prayer or even acknowledging that it was Shabbat.
I began to consider the significance of Jews living in Israel shifting towards a more secular culture. Do they equivocate their mitzvah of living in the Jewish homeland with the mitzvoth of religious practice? Perhaps Jews who live in separation from the holy land feel more of an obligation to commit to and practice Judaism than Israeli Jews.
Photos by Samantha Simon.
Graphic by Olivia Hitchcock.