Wednesday, 6 January 2016

My JWRP experience

I have been trying to put into words all the experiences I had on my recent trip to Israel with the JWRP. As the weeks pass by since my return it has been become clearer to me what the trip has done for me. When I first applied to the JWRP in 2012 it was more about taking a trip on my own, without my family. A "break" if you will. I didn't know exactly why I wanted to go on a woman's trip to Israel but I did know I wanted to experience Israel again, through adult eyes. It had been many years, almost half my life since I'd last visited the Holy Land. As time passed and I had the opportunity to speak with many women who had gone on the trip I learned more about it. They all said the same thing - the trip was amazing and had significantly change their lives. I knew I had to go. My first application was rejected and again my second application was rejected, both for reason's beyond my control. I was becoming increasingly discouraged and started doubting my desire to go on this trip. Then something happened that shook me to the core and solidified my need to visit Israel again. A long time "friend" began posting an array of anti-Israel, free-Gaza and BDS (BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS) propaganda on her Facebook page. I was shocked and disgusted that someone I had been good friends for many years, someone whom I had invited to my Passover Seder, someone who lived and worked with Jews would believe and spread those lies. I confronted her and asked what she was thinking posting such rhetoric. She began spewing all sorts of ill conceived "facts" about Israel, things she had obviously read in propaganda. She had clearly been brainwashed. When I expressed my utter disgust at her being so blatantly antisemitic she replied with the old adage that she didn't hate Jews she just hated Zionists. My attempts to explain that antisemitism and anti-Zionism is one and the same fell on deaf ears. She did not want to hear or read the factually accurate rebuttal I carefully constructed for her. She immediately dismissed me with the statement "you're too invested in being Jewish to see the truth" With that statement I knew beyond any doubt that I had to experience Israel again. Of course I was invested in being Jewish. It is a major part of who I am, how I was raised and how I want my family to live on a daily basis. I needed to learn more ways to bring Jewish values and ethics into my home for the long run. It was more than just lighting Shabbat candles weekly or forcing the kids to go to shul on the high holidays. I needed to be pro-active. Educating my family about Israel was to become a regular occurrence in my home. My kids would learn about the importance of having a home land for all Jews to return to. While the trip definitely helped renew my love of Israel it also did so much more. Adrienne Gold our trip leader was so inspirational. She spoke about so many relevant topics including "don't blame and don't complain" which essentially made us think about how important it is to take responsibility for ourselves. Be thankful for what we have and take the time to appreciate those around us. (Baruch Hashem, I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband, so what if he doesn't always close the drawers or cupboards or occasionally leaves his socks on the floor. OR So I feel a sense of boredom on occasion with the life I've been living- make the effort to change things for myself instead of waiting for change to come to me!) I was really challenged to look deep into myself and decide who I am, who I want to be and what kind of kids I want to raise. The trip definitely brought laughter and many tears (especially for me!!!) and overall I would highly recommend this experience to almost any Jewish mother I know. Along with all the learning and self-reflecting we did I was extremely fortunate to have made some amazing friends on this trip. Our group really gelled well. Everyone got along beautifully and I think that many of us feel as if we have made "sisters" for life. Most of these women I would have never had the chance to meet if it weren't for the JWRP.

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