Culture, Customs, and Community

February 8, 2016

An overwhelming amount of excitement hits you as you stare out the small plane window, waiting to land. You take in the new landscape so different yet so enticing. Where are you?

Israel, a country full of new culture, foods, and historical sights. Known for the historical events and political warfare, Israel is a hub for many cultures to collide.

Over winter break a group of youth from the Omaha area took a unique opportunity to go on a trip to Israel.

The youth learned of the trip by attending the Temple Israel, Beth El, or Beth-Israel synagogues.

Several of these youth were also students who attend MN. They left for Israel on December 20th and arrived back in Omaha on January 1st.

The students were able to participate in many volunteering opportunities while in Israel.While in Israel, group members got to have a real Israeli experience. Not only did they have a local tour guide, but got to stay with host families. The group traveled in cities including Jerusalem, Nahariya, and Tel Aviv and got to meet incredible new people.

“We got to stay with a family for two nights so it was interesting to see how they live,” senior Abby Reiss said.

They also got to do a service project at a food bank.

“I packed fruit and a couple gave the food out to families in need,” Reiss said.

Although different from the culture we are familiar with in the U.S. the group felt very safe in Israel.

“I felt very connected knowing that so many other people were Jewish,” junior Lindsey Osborne said.

The group spent time with youth who had Cerebral Palsy, as well as meeting up with other Jewish teens from different parts of the U.S. and from Israel.

“We went around a hospital and gave injured and sick children candy to cheer them up,” Osborne said.

The group also visited several historical sites and tourist attractions.

“I think my favorite was
going to Jerusalem and seeing so many old parts of the city,” Osborne said.

The Western Wall was built many centuries ago and is one of the holiest sites where Jews can go to pray.

“Generations of families have come to the Western Wall and it really hit me that I was in Israel,” junior Whitney Fiedman said.

The group said they at times did feel unsafe because of the new environment and turmoil that has occurred there.

“”We had a security person with us for almost the entire trip, so we were safe. We never went to any places that had violence,” Fiedman said.

They also had the opportunity to visit an Israeli market in Jerusalem.

“The market had lots of interesting things like fresh fish. We went on a tour so we got to sample a lot of unique items.Some vendors even let us pick up stuff like dried fruit out of their baskets and try it,” Reiss said.

Overall the trip yielded an amazing opportunity for the students to travel to Israel and experience new cultures and people.

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