By Emily Einhorn
While a majority of the few Juniors studying abroad spent yesterday worrying about their programs being cancelled, I had an incredible time. I understand how insensitive that sentence could be to those whose trips and semesters have been cancelled recently, but it is genuinely a testament to how special of an experience I and the thirty three other Nachshon Fellows are currently having while still abroad.
The Nachshon Project is not your typical abroad experience. Sundays are spent in programming from 9-5 (sometimes later) exploring our Jewish identities and future career paths, rather than other friends who may be hungover on a train from one European country to the next. Our program requires us to take an additional class rather than supplying us with easy and quick courses. When the Nachshon Project fellows have conversations with other Rothberg University students about their Nachshon programming, they are often met with people who act as if it is a chore. My friends and I have been shocked to have to explain to people on other programs abroad how much we actually enjoy the programming. What the extra programming and structures means, is that rather than being alone in a foreign country while studying abroad, Nachshon provides us with the support and resources we need to flourish and explore.
The two rabbis who run Nacshon have fostered the most professional, yet personal relationships with all thirty four of us. They take care of us personally, taking us to Ikea before we moved into our dorms and bringing us into their homes and families. It has only been a month and we all feel such a strong sense of community within the entire Nachshon program, mostly because of our programing the Rabbis run.
I have known how special The Nachshon Project is since I heard about it two summers ago at camp, but the Coronavirus has emphasized the value of Nachshon to me and many of my peers. This experience is so special because in a time where almost every other study abroad student felt alone and far from home, I felt myself feeling the most at home I have ever felt.
Yesterday the number of Coronavirus cases in our current home, Israel, as well as back in North America, continued to rise exponentially. News continued to come in about more students abroad being sent home, more flights to and from the United States being canceled, and more universities in the U.S. being shut down for the rest of the year. Yesterday one of the fellows hosted a seudah for Purim at her apartment. As we all showed up, like the rest of the World, all we could talk and worry about was Corona. Naturally, we did what has become like a habit to us in the past month- texted the rabbis. Within less than an hour one of the rabbis showed up to our Purim lunch with his four children dressed up to celebrate and reassure us.
I knew the Jewish value of community was always at the core of my Jewish identity, but after participating in Nachshon this has illuminated this aspect of my identity. I had an incredible, stress free Shushan Purim at a time where I likely should have felt alone and I could not feel more thankful for The Nachshon Project amidst this chaos.