When you donate to Federation you help send teens and young adults to Israel creating a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience that forges a bond to Israel and its people that empowers the next generation to care for future of the nation.
By Dylan Rodin
It's hard to find the words to express my trip to Israel, and harder yet to find the words to express my gratitude to the Jewish Federation of San Diego County for making it possible.
This trip had a very personal effect on me because, at the time, I was struggling with my own personal Jewish identity. It seemed like not only was I the last of my family to practice Judaism, but I began to develop the feeling that there was no-one else I could relate to. JITLI proved me wrong like no other Jewish group has. I have joined and been active in many Jewish groups throughout the San Diego County and I helped create the Student Jewish Association.
Still, I have never felt the way I did on JITLI. Even before the trip, I knew that from the time we spent together I had gained 11 new friends that I could trust and relate to and that alone is invaluable. What surprised me, even more, was that once I was in Israel, I figured the other Jewish members I was with were going to be my closest friends on the trip. But, it ended up being some of my favorite friendships were with the Muslims I got to experience Israel with.
One of the most memorable parts of the trip was when we visited The Western Wall. It was by far what I was most excited for because I believed that when I arrived there, I would finally be one with my Jewish Identity. What I did not expect was something that would change how I live my life. At the very moment when I had wrapped Tefillin and began praying towards the wall, I instantly felt a divine presence, exactly what I had hoped for. Immediately after that, there was another presence that overflowed my spirit with happiness. I realized that I was in the presence of friendship and understanding.
My Muslim friend, Yehihya, stood next to me and began praying with me. Aside from all the differences and arguments we had, he took the time to acknowledge and expect my religion and my own personal journey within it. It was at that very moment that I realized what JITLI had taught me. Love. Loving the person who, despite my stubbornness, worked with me to create a little bit of peace. From that moment on, I knew that if I dedicated my life to understanding and respecting people the way he had taught me, I may very well be able to change the world.
So, I must say thank you to all of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, because the experience you have given me can only make this world a little bit nicer for all of us.