By: Bethany Friedlander
PJ Library Manager
My daughter, along with two buses full of Colorado teens, returned home this past Sunday from JEWISHcolorado’s Joyce Zeff Israel Study Tour (IST). The next morning, she convinced her brother to share in the work of making chocolate chip pancakes. She said that she really missed pancakes. She came back exhausted and quiet and not yet ready to share her experience. She was home and at the same time had just left a home-away-from home. Pancakes were a good start.
This group of teens spent a week in Poland and then flew to Israel for the next four weeks. For those four weeks they made Israel home. They explored, ate falafel, drank at Aroma, met new friends, and created memories. With no parents to “deal with,” they navigated the land, the language, and friendships without the regular comforts (or annoyances) of parents, siblings, school work, work obligations, and regular day-to-day responsibilities.
In this week’s Parsha, Moses is preparing the Israelites for entering the land of Israel which was to be their new home. Moses recounts his story in the desert. It was a slightly different version of the actual events, but I suppose we all remember things through our own unique experiences. The Israelites listening to Moses would be entering the land of Israel with fresh eyes. They would need to keep in their memories the great spectacles of receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. They would taste their last pieces of manna. They would recall water being given from a rock. They would recount rebellions and miracles. They would be moving forward, conquering the land, raising families, setting up a government, working the land, understanding the demands of a new life. This would be a brand-new place with new experiences, new challenges, and new thrills. Moses, their leader, would not be accompanying them. There would be no turning back.
As someone who has had the opportunity to visit Israel many times, (and return home) there is a feeling of “home-ness” as soon as you step off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport. No matter the language barrier, the different food, the magic of historical sites, there is something very familiar about it. And at the same time, returning to my own home in America has a wonderful feeling as well.
I wonder how the Israelites felt as Moses described where that had been and where they would be going. Were they excited? Afraid? Curious? Would they miss where they had come from? Would they easily make this new place home?
I am fairly certain that my daughter had an amazing time in Israel. I am also convinced that it was not just the pancakes that she missed. I think there may have been some sibling bonding involved with the cooking experience as well. Unlike the Israelites preparing to enter that land of Israel, we have the privilege to keep two homes. May there always be time to share falafel and pancakes with family and friends in all the places we call home.