Two years ago, the beginning of my junior year, I was nominated as
an 18 Under 18 honoree. My work in the Jewish world had just recently begun,
when I picked up my phone and started to create and share fun videos about the
amazing Jewish youth experiences I was starting to attend. I was fairly good at
it and ended up making some friends and engaging previously disengaged Reform
Jews in the process.
I got more involved in a youth group called NFTY, and was elected
President of the Chicago chapter my senior year. Here is when I started
learning about Israel, Palestine, and the Z-word, Zionism. I had a very
limited understanding of what this “Holy” desert in the middle of the east was
really about, so I started to talk to some of my Rabbis and educators, and got
really involved in what I consider one of today's most nuanced global issues.
As I was continuing my work in my own community, and as my senior
year was nearing its melancholy, virtual end, I had a big decision to make
post-high school. COVID sure made that decision easier, and it landed me in
Jerusalem a few months ago on a gap year program called Aardvark Israel! Since
I have gotten here, my entire outlook on Judaism has fundamentally changed (for
the better)! I have a renewed passion and drive to learn about the historical,
religious, linguistic, and spiritual roots of the Jewish people, and there is
no place better to do it here than in the most complicated, disputed, and holy
place on Earth.
While my time here has challenged my beliefs unlike anything else,
I wouldn't have done it any other way. I hope to come home after this year and
pour all of the energy and passion in my life right back into my community,
starting with teaching Hebrew at URJ OSRUI this summer!
HEY! Look over here! These author blogs are always so dry so let
me make this as readable as possible. My name is Josh. I am from “Chicago” (the
suburbs). I am currently living in Israel on a gap year before college. I spend
my time learning, fighting for a liveable planet, and trying to live the
happiest life I can. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for
any questions about what I say or write!