Being in Israel for my year abroad was such an amazing opportunity. Attending a year in seminary gave me the chance to form long-lasting friendships with girls from all over the world, including Mexico, Panama, London, and Switzerland. I was able to broaden my understanding of Judaism through the many stimulating classes and programs that were organized. I will forever cherish the special opportunities to experience the land of Israel. From our trip to the Golan in the north to Eilat down south, and everywhere in between, I was constantly astounded by the breathtaking beauty. I also gained so much from the holy sites I was privileged to visit. The rich history of our people came alive as I spent time in places such as Kever Rochel and Tzfat.
One of the highlights of my year was the opportunity to build a relationship with my 97-year-old great-grandmother. Previously, I had rarely seen her because she lives in Israel. During my year in Israel, I spent much time sitting and talking with her and learning about her incredible history and connection to Eretz Yisroel. I was fortunate enough that she lives in Jerusalem where my seminary was, and I had easy access to visit her whenever I felt like it. I also feel very fortunate to have many family friends and relatives there, some of whom I had never met. My year in Israel provided me with the opportunity to get to know all of them.
Having the Western Wall within walking distance of my seminary gave me the opportunity to go and pray there whenever I felt like it. Knowing that G-d was extra close to me the whole year gave me a feeling of security that I cannot feel in America. I felt so connected and so close, that coming home was hard, but I was able to take some of that feeling with me back to America. Just walking the streets of the Holy Land was something I don't take for granted and spending Shabbos in Jerusalem is unparalleled. All the people I met and learned so much from have had a profound impact on me and my goals for the future. I have a new and deeper appreciation for Israel now that I was privileged to spend a year there. My dream is to be able to live in Israel at some point in my future. I am so grateful to those who provided this grant which enabled me to have this incredible experience.
By Chava Harpaz
Chava Harpaz traveled to Israel with funding from the Tidewater Jewish Foundation’s Simon Family Passport to Israel Program. The current round of applications is open until March 15, 2022.
For more information, visit bit.ly/tjf-passport, contact Ann Swindell, TJF Donor Relations and Grant manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-965-6106.