Lech Licha – Discovering Israel’s Jewish Identity: Israeli Participant Cheftzi Tirosh posts from Israel on the NEXTGen Detroit’s Advance Academy Solicitor’s Training Mission

October 22, 2015 | Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit

The Torah portion of this week is the parsha of Lech Lecha. In this parsha, G-d commands Abraham to leave his country, his family, and his “father’s house” and start his own journey to a place unknown that G-d will show him. In order to emphasize the commandment, the Torah decides to use a double command, as such the Hebrew word “Lech” is used twice. Many commentators ask why the Torah used this same word twice, and some say that lech lecha is not only a physical leaving of home but a spiritual command to leave home to find your own purpose/density. It is a command to “get up and act.” We spent the day seeing many organizations who were “living” this command of Lech Lecha — getting up and doing, seeing a problem in Israeli society and deciding to do something about it. 

image1Each one of the social entrepreneurs we met with today found a creative way to address a problem of Israeli society. Amichai, a mission participant , opened a gap year program for secular Israeli high school graduates from high economic and privileged backgrounds. Amichia and his team realized that these young adults are going to be the future leaders of Israel. Yet their great education is lacking something very critical — their Jewish and Zionist identity. During their gap year, they have a chance to build their own jewish story. Developing this identity at this crucial stage will develop them as leaders within a Zionistic and Jewish framework. As a group we got to experience a taste of the Mechina lifestyle by getting up at 6A M for a morning nature bike ride and delicious breakfast cooked in the wilderness.

We also visited a program that addressed gaps in English language instruction in Israeli schools in our Partnership Region of  Nazareth Illit. image2We had a tasty meeting cooking up a storm with women in our Partnership Region who “reformulated” common Israeli recipes to make them more healthy. These women will be agents for change in their community.

These programs are all led by the “lech lecha” spirit. Getting up and acting, not being oblivious to society’s small problems. Even a small change, like switching dates for chocolate in a recipe, or providing an Israeli student with a 15 minute phone conversation in English (as we saw in the school) or asking a secular Israeli teen to light Shabbat candles for the fist time — all together improve Israeli society. 

image3We realized that one of the best parts of this trip, opposed to a classic Birthright trip when participants are shown the “sunny/positive” side of Israel, is that this trip exposed us to the complexities of Israeli society. As Detroit participant Adam Blank explained in a group discussion, “what makes this trip different is seeing not just the black and white but the ‘grey’ of Israel”

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