June 2018

By Hannah Gilfix

As we spent our final Shabbaton together, we spent a lot of time relaxing, bonding, hiking, and reflecting on our semester together. Amongst the time we spent in the waves in the Kinneret, we had a number of programs to help us reflect on what we’re taking away from this semester. We all came from different backgrounds, experienced many things together but interpreted them differently this semester, and have different futures. Because of this, I was wondering what it would be like for all of us to come together to share what we’re taking home with us as our time in Israel comes to a close.

Since we were all aware of how vastly different our experiences this semester were, the rabbis began the program by acknowledging that and by explaining how it’s not only okay, but actually good, that we’re all walking away with different take-aways. Earlier in the weekend Rabbi Zeff led a program about reverse culture shock, where we discussed how it may be hard to go home and reunite with people we haven’t seen in five months; how somethings may be the same and how others will have changed; how some people will want to hear all about our experiences and how others won’t. Connecting the two programs together, we were all asked to share what our “elevator pitch” will be when we share what we’re taking away from this semester to our families and friends at home.

There was a wide range of ideas and take-aways shared, as expected. The elevator pitches ranged from a new understanding and capability of reading Jewish text, to a new desire to become a Jewish professional, to feeling that we have a new network of 41 passionate and understanding people. While the answers varied, we were all able to relate to at least one part of every person’s answer. I felt like this was a perfect way to reflect on our semester together and showed how truly incredible this semester has been, and how truly different it has also been for each one of us.

Not one person had the exact same take-aways as someone else, but each of us took away something truly meaningful and something that will stick with us for a very long time. As a group of people who all started the semester in incredibly different places, it’s amazing to see how we all were able to come together for the betterment of the group and to help each other grow in so many ways. It is also amazing to see what a special bond we’ve all formed as a group and how although we are all about to continue down our separate paths, we’ll always have this experience and each other to rely on, and this activity proved just that.