Before I went to Israel with Ta’am Yisrael, people said that it was going to change my life forever. I had no idea what they were talking about. I had been to Israel before. How would this trip be so different that my life would feel changed?
But by the time I touched down in Ben Gurion airport I had the sense that this trip was different. The other participants on the program, whom I had barely known before the trip, began to feel like old friends. I felt that, along with my peers, I was on a journey of self discovery. Even though I had left my house only a day earlier, as we landed, I felt like I was arriving home.
Through the places we toured and the people we met, I felt a closeness to Israel that I had never felt before. It was as if someone pulled back the curt170 eight graders ain and I got a peek at what was behind it. I began to understand how this land many miles away from my house impacted me and my Judaism.
There were moments I felt the presence of God (especially at midnight at the Kotel). Everything seemed to disappear except for me, the Wall, my prayers, and God.
I had been to Israel before, and seen some of the things we saw before. But going to Israel on Ta’am Yisrael – and unfortunately I do not know exactly what – was different. I had seen things before, been places before, but I had not felt the way I feel now. I went to Israel and found God, myself, and my Judaism.