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Shehechiyanu: We Have All Arrived in Israel

By Avery Budman on 07/18/2010 @ 07:10 PM

PDI Israel

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Today, 14 participants said "shehechiyanu" overlooking Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus. The occasion and prayer that thanks God for allowing us to reach this day meant a lot to all of us -- this trip has been planned for more than two years ago since we began the program. Over those two years, we constantly talked about what it would mean to travel to Israel together and what we would want to accomplish: now it is here.

Our group is varied: Several people have lived in Israel for months at a time, some visiting in the double digits and some only on their second or third visit. We don't see this as a weakness or hardship, but rather as a chance to make a really unique and individualized agenda for which we'll experience together.

Our first real session of the program was this evening at Mt. Scopus. For anyone who hasn't seen the overlook there, definitely google it. If I wasn't so jetlagged I would post the picture myself. We got there at sunset and began a discussion of what does it mean to be a Zionist? While you might think it is a simple question, it is not:

- Can you be a Zionist and disagree with some of Israel's policies and practices?

- If you publicly disagree with some of Israel's policies and practices, does that make it easier for some people to deligitimize Israel all together?

- Can you live in the Diaspora and still be a true Zionist? Why is it important that we live in the Diaspora and still support Israel?

- Does Zionism change with every generation based on Israel's needs?

We wrapped up the discussion with the singing of one of my favorite songs, "Yerushalyim shel zahav..." so I wanted to post it for you all to enjoy...sorry we didn't take our own video but if you close your eyes and try hard, you'll be able to picture us yourself...enjoy!

Anyways, tomorrow we have a jampacked first day, including a tour of the Old City and a visit to the Kotel on erev Tisha B'av. More info on that to come...stay tuned!

Am Yisrael Chai!

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