Jacksonville teen feels right at home in the homeland

 

BY SYDNEY TEITLBAUM
Trip Participant

 

I don’t think I can find the right words to explain how thankful I am to have been able to participate in the Tikkun Olam program this past summer as the friendships I made through the program will last a lifetime. Over the course of a month, I got to know and grew incredibly close to some amazing people. They are all so unique and amazing in their own special way and share a special place in my heart.


                My host family was so welcoming and kind, that when I arrived I immediately felt at home. What struck me is that even though we lived across the world from one another, we shared many similarities. It was also incredible to me that everything in the small country of Israel was no more than 45-minutes away. The amount of roundabouts and the fact that throughout my entire two weeks in that extraordinary country, I never saw a single speed limit sign amazed me. The Graffiti Tour that we took in Tel Aviv was awesome, and the way our tour guide explained the meaning behind the art was incredibly inspiring.

 

The Western Wall in Jerusalem speaks for itself and it was surreal to be standing in front of a structure that I’ve spent my entire life hearing about. The prayer I left on the wall was very meaningful to me, and it was even more meaningful to leave it on the ancient wall. Staying in Pardes Hanna, minutes away from Caesarea, for two weeks was one of the greatest parts of my visit as the family I lived with happened to live on one of the first streets of Pardes Hanna.

 

Rather than travel around the country as tourists, in Jacksonville we travelled around the city as hosts, which was equally as fun, because we led them all around the city visiting the various locations in the Jewish community. It was fun to host them and give them a taste of southern hospitality here in Jacksonville, and I sincerely hope they enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed my experience in Israel.