Rabbi JP Held, our Director of Jewish Education, along with Rosh Sport David Getzkin, Rosh Chinuch Sam Schachtman, and Uncle Ozo Ethan Fine volunteered to put their experiential education skills to work on a special Hillel-sponsored trip to Israel. The Herzl staff accompanied 14 student leaders of other faiths on a mission to experience Israel and the Palestinian territories first-hand. The trip aimed to expand the students’ understanding of Israel and deepen the dialogue on campus.
Ethan Fine, who will be supporting the Ozo Program this summer, shared his experience with us.
“Our journey began up north, where we met with the Druze community and learned about their culture over a traditional meal. Later, we headed down to the Dead Sea, checked out some religious sites along the way and ended in Jerusalem, where we spent the majority of our time. Our time in Jerusalem concluded by welcoming in Shabbat at the Kotel with our new friends before going to Tel Aviv. We met with past and present government officials, journalists and religious leaders to learn about the rich history of the Middle East.
For me, this time in Israel restored my Jewish identity. As a busy college student, it’s hard to maintain a healthy relationship with Judaism. I go to Hillel and Chabad and I’m the President of AEPi, the Jewish fraternity, but religiously, I feel like Judaism can get lost on me. Being in Israel, surrounded by the beautiful culture, land and people truly brought back my pride.
I can’t wait to bring my new knowledge and excitement about Judaism and the land of milk and honey to Herzl Camp this summer. I look forward to starting engaging conversations with my Ozrim about the history of Israel and how we can embrace our heritage at camp. This trip has given me new friends, new experiences and new memories that I can’t wait to share this summer.”
“Seeing our staff share their culture and faith with other student leaders in Israel truly filled me with pride,” said Rabbi Held. “It was the culmination of the work we do at camp summer after summer that we as camp staff don’t usually get to see. We teach our campers all about Israel, inspire curiosity and build connections through friendships with Israeli campers and staff. On this trip, I saw our campers, now grown, teach others and inspire others to be curious and learn more about Israel. I was honored and humbled to witness it.