My experiences so far on WUJS...what can I say?
For anyone who as ever travelled before, they probably understand the experience of returning from the trip and not knowing where to begin when people ask about it. After less than two months, it is hard to find a place to begin.
I guess we should start with the best...the people. I have been so lucky to have encountered the most amazing people since I have been here. Whether lasting friendships or fleeting interactions on the street, I have been amazed by the openness of the community here. Though I miss my friends from home terribly, I have been blessed to be in a group of intelligent, thoughtful, kind, fun young adults who I would dare say are not all like-minded, but the kind of people who are open enough to listen to the ideas of others, even when disagreeing. I am still amazed every day by the variety and depth of backgrounds and experiences that each individual contributes to this group. From one person's infectious smile to another's compassion for minority communities, everyone has something very important and special that they bring.
I guess next would be the places. Since I have been here, unfortunately, my health has been like a roller coaster, so I have not had much of an opportunity to travel on my own. Because of this, I have been that much more appreciative of our tiyulim and siyurim, as they have been my main source of opportunity to get to see Israel outside of Jerusalem. Seeing places like Sderot and looking over into the Gaza strip are not only life changing events, but also are trips that I probably would not have made on my own, and I truly appreciate them.
Which brings us to our teachers, both those who lead our siyurim and those who don't. After attending a public university of over 30,000 students, it still comes as a shock to me to talk to teachers who really care about us as individuals as well as our learning experiences. The teachers here invite us to their homes and encourage us to question them as well as ourselves. I would not have appreciated where we have gone on the siyurim as much as I have without the guidance of Steve Israel and Sheldon Shulman.
And where would we be without our fearless leaders? Yonit and Yael work day and night to keep us happy - whether it's a leaky toilet or an evening shiur, they are always around to help and always happy to do so. In fact, last Friday, when I got extremely sick, Yonit schlepped with me all over Jerusalem to make sure that I got the medical care that I needed, on Shabbat, no less.
So, what can I say about my experiences so far? Remarkable. Life changing. Challenging. Educational.