How we Connect: Israel, We've Got That Cultural Connection

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The culture of Israel is my life.

My generation connects with Israel in so many different ways. One connection that has been prevalent throughout history and is still evident today is culture.

Rich in art, music, science, and out of this world phenomenal food, Israel combines countless heritages into an intricate tapestry of culture. In his book “For the Love of Israel,” Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein elaborates on Israel's culture: "Sometimes it is a simple accordion player leading barefoot Israeli dancers that expresses boundless joy. Or it could be Chasidic singer Matisyahu, the Idan Raichel Project blending Ethiopian and western music, psychedelic trance group Infected Mushroom lifting Israel’s culture and music to high notes.”

Israel's culture is imminently present in all aspects of my life. It is on my iPod for when I want to jam out to Hadag Nachash and Idan Raichel. It is the food I crave after coming home after Hebrew class (all I ever want to eat are carrots dipped in hummus - it’s a real problem). It is my late night entertainment, when I open my laptop and search “watch V for Vendetta online” with Israeli-born movie-star, Natalie Portman. It is my friends after a long day of classes and meetings, sitting around a hookah (for which we only use Israeli shisha because it is unsurpassable - especially watermelon-mint). Something as small as being around the table for my Passover Seder with my family is awe-inspiring; knowing that there are millions of people in Israel and around the world at the same exact moment, doing the same exact thing as me is an incredible connection.

Additionally, the people of Israel, a people of hospitality and diversity, make it possible for the world to be able to enjoy and appreciate all of these cultural riches. The people, through their many heritages, bring something unique from their respective cultures together, whether it be a set of moral values, a delicious recipe, or a sick taste in music.

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My cultural connection is the connection to the people: A people who showed me hospitality and love for simply volunteering to paint, garden, and work with the children in their Ethiopian community; who would come out of their apartments and, in the minimal English they knew, would offer us everything they had, just to prove the gratitude they had for us. It was as if through our mutual understanding of how appreciative we were to have this experience, as they were appreciative for us being there at all, we had become a family. Whenever I talk, or even think about Israel, I’m not thinking of a land that is 6,592 miles away. I am thinking of my home away from home, and my family that I may not have grown up with, but a family that I will never really be separated from.

The culture of Israel is my life.