By: Betsy Lampert, Florida Atlantic University, Hasbara Fellow
December 11, 2018
It was important to my parents for Judaism to be a part of mine and my sister’s life. I have so many special childhood memories that make me so thankful I was able to enjoy being Jewish the way I’ve been able to. I’ll always remember things like singing the Hamotzi before snack in pre-school, wearing white at camp with all my friends for Shabbat, going to Hebrew school and having a Bat Mitzvah, the entire Bar/Bat Mitzvah season in middle school, going to Israel with my synagogue and making lifelong friends, and celebrating the Jewish holidays each year with my family and keeping different traditions. These experiences that my parents thought were important for me to have and be a part of, are ones that have truly shaped my Jewish identity and who I have become today.
These experiences also helped me to navigate the beginning of college. A time when students are living on their own and making more decisions for themselves for the first time. It’s also a time when Jewish young adults have to figure out how they want to incorporate Judaism into their life. I’m lucky to have such a supportive and active Hillel on my campus with so many opportunities like for me to do so. I also have traveled to Israel in college on Birthright, with Hasbara Fellowships on their Israel Training Program, and then interned in Tel Aviv at a start-up company through Onward Israel this past summer. These different trips to Israel have been so memorable and life changing and have made me appreciate Israel and my Judaism even more. I got to learn about the country for myself, experience Israeli culture, and grow to call Israel a second home. Israel is now a part of my everyday life and activities in some way or another. Whether it be scrolling down Facebook and laughing at numerous Secret Tel Aviv memes, helping put together Israel programs at my school’s Hillel, educating and engaging with students on my campus through Owls for Israel, or answering in one of my Israel trip group chats, Israel is a huge part of my identity. All these things put together, I’m not sure who I would be or what my college experience would be like thus far without Israel or Judaism a part of it.
Israel and Zionism has shaped my Jewish identity in many ways. It’s shaped my Jewish identity as it has helped me to further learn about my religion and Jewish culture. Israel has helped connect me to other Jewish people all around the world. In one way, shape, or form, it’s been the center of my college experience. Israel and Zionism has shaped my Jewish identity as it is now one of the defining things that makes me proud to call myself Jewish.