I was asked to write about my Shnat Hachshara, which is definitely one of the most difficult questions that I have to answer. I would prefer to be questioned about the first Aliyah, or who the Prime Minister when Camp David accord was signed was, or even to report my opinion about one of the hardest issues of the Israeli society right now, Gilad Shalit.
But no, I have to write about my Shnat Hachshara. It is really impossible to put into words all the things that I have lived through this whole year. I had experiences that I had never imagined I would be able to deal with, or to live through. Laughing, tears, all the things that I have learned, not only in the classroom, but also by living.
To be in the Jewish State, to live in the Jewish State, to breath in the Jewish State. To know that every single person had already fought in the army, or that they will leave their house when at 18 to fight, to defend, to create security, but mainly to let our state continue being.
Seeing all the flags on the streets, and there are a lot of them, all the times I sang the Hatikva, seeing people who wear a kipa or tsitsit, every Hebrew word I heard, every single conversation, every moment living in the Israeli society, to see the society’s involvement in politics, to see the importance of newspapers, to be able, or at least to try, to understand this whole society that is crazy and full of issues.
I spent the whole year here, and what I felt in Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Ha’zikaron and Yom Kippur, was indescribable. To be sure that this is our country, our state, where we can and have to make it work, that here we can make our dreams come true. That on one hand, we won’t be able to get on a bus on Shabbat, but on the other hand, everyone on the streets will say to you Shabbat Shalom.
It is really hard to write about all the incredible moments that I have been through. All the trips we took in order to get to know every single corner in Israel, and to learn the history about that rock, or that field, or that camp, or that war, or even that person – these feelings were completely amazing. To feel and see everything at once, to learn, to live. All the classes were absolutely wonderful. Now I know that I am much better prepared to support Israel, defend it and explain everything that the papers hide in my country and to try and make sure that nobody will propagate against Israel.
Beside that, I have learnt a lot from all the political issues I saw. While I was at the demonstration to free Gilad Shalit, I was able to discuss and form an opinion about the real possibility of his freedom, while listening to people from both the political left and right sides.
I learned the world is like what Machiavelli once wrote about – there are no good and bad people, it is all a big game of interests and power. Here, in Israel in 2009, there is no big difference between there, in Italy in 1400 – it is a very complicated and at the same time fascinating game. The right is not bad just because they don’t want to trade land for peace – because every single piece of this land means a lot to them. This also does not mean that the left do not think that our land is not important – it’s just that they prefer peace to the land. Of course, this was just one thing that I thought, learned, and discussed about.
I can not forget that also I have lived in a very special place in the Israeli society. To have experienced life on a kibbutz was completely amazing. Seeing how it functions, working in the kibbutz, learning my place inside this community, was also something that I appreciate a lot, due to the impossibility to live this way in any other part of the world. I must say that to be there with the rest of the Chazit participants was also a very special experience.
Another part of our program that was amazing were the volunteer work. Although not all our jobs were vital for Israeli society, it was complete magic to work among Israelis. Also, we learned a lot. We had to make everything ourselves – like if we didn’t cook we won’t have a meal, or if we didn’t clean, our house would have stayed dirty.
Besides all these things I wrote about, I can not forget to mention how important it is to experience living alone, without having my parents around, to live in the way I wanted, to grow up, and to make a dream come true.
In another ten days I will leave Israel, with a sad heart, but also with my thoughts ready to be spoken with conviction about our country, our land. I am sure that this is my country, where I can make the society better, where I can be Jewish and Zionist, where I can make my dreams come true. All of this is due to my Shnat experience – the best time that I have ever had in my life.
I am sure that this year has changed my life, and made me realize what I want – to live here and to shout out loud עם ישראל חי.
By Pricila Cukierman, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil