This year I was among those fortunate enough to partake in a yearlong seminary program in Israel. I am so thankful for the amazing, inspiring and life-changing year I experienced. Thanks to the generosity of the Torah Letzion Scholarship Foundation, I was able to turn this year into a reality. With much gratitude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Torah Letzion for this experience.
This year in Israel has exceeded my expectations in so many ways. As I mentioned in a previous essay, I was never privileged to step foot in Israel until ten months ago. Despite this fact, I immediately connected with the Land upon my arrival, and my passion for it only grew stronger throughout my visit.
The kedusha of Eretz Yisrael is palpable. I remain in awe at having treaded upon the same footsteps and places that our avot and imahot walked during their lifetimes. The pages of Tanach that informed my imagination during my studies throughout high school came to life in vivid color and reality this past year. It seemed that every turn that I took in the streets of Jerusalem rang with echoes of our Biblical heritage; places like Givat Shaul, Ir David and Har Hazeitim.
I also gained an immense appreciation of the early pioneers of the modern State of Israel, who gave so much to turn the miracle of a modern Jewish homeland into a reality, as well as those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend Israel’s existence. Visiting the Palmach Museum, the IDF Museum, and Har Hertzl and Ammunition Hill on Yom Hazikaron have given me a new appreciation for their heroic efforts.
Another major impact that being in Israel for a year had on me was the feeling of unity among all types of Jews. I was blessed with the opportunity to celebrate the major holidays in Israel along with the rest of the Jewish people, and experience moments of tremendous joy, as well as the unfortunate moments of sadness and terrorism this year. However, the one common aspect that transpired from these instances was the unique solidarity that our religion provides, over any other religion.
My year of learning in seminary has made me into a better Jew and a better person. I was able to focus my energies on learning Torah without the distraction of a rigorous parallel secular learning schedule. I already had a strong passion for Torah learning before entering seminary, but this year I took my passion to a whole new level by developing my skills enough to enable me to learn on my own. Although I am no longer constantly surrounded by the naturally spiritually uplifting environment that seminary provides, I have learned how to take everything I gained this year and use it to continue to learn and grow as a Jew. I would like to once again thank Torah Letzion for helping me reach this point, and for granting me this scholarship.
Student studying in Midreshet Moriah