By Galit Rosenblatt
During the final week of January 2020, I landed in Israel to participate in the Nachshon Project with 33 other Jewish college students and leaders from across America. To my surprise, I did not know a single one of them from beforehand, so the first few days of our program consisted of long rounds of my favorite game: Jewish Geography, where we each list off what colleges/camps/day schools we have attended and try to figure out how many people we know in common. This game always proves to be a quick way to make the Jewish world feel smaller and start to build a sense of community.
Throughout our weeklong Opening Conference in Zichron Yaakov, I gradually got to know my fellow Nachshon Fellows better and started to feel a sense of community with them. We bonded over our love of camp, the beauty in Israel, the most delicious hummus, and our favorite zemirot to sing on Friday night at our oneg. We had many opportunities to learn with each other from various speakers, and I was so inspired to be learning in an environment where my peers were not afraid to ask challenging questions or think critically about their own opinions. On the bus to Jerusalem at the end of the week, I reflected in my journal about being so excited to continue to learn with and from this group for the upcoming semester.
In addition to excitement, there was a tangible nervous energy on the bus as we drove up to the Student Village on Mount Scopus. While we were all eager to finally get settled in Jerusalem, meet our roommates, and start Ulpan, we were also hesitant of a new beginning: new school, new routine, new city, new people. Yet, I felt reassured in confronting those first day of school jitters because I already had a solid community and support system after a week of bonding together. I know that my transition into Hebrew University was so much smoother because of the friends I had already made in my Nachshon Cohort.