This summer, I had the privilege of visiting Israel through a different lens than ever before. I went on the program called Ramah Seminar, a six-week educational and social trip that every Ramah camper can attend when they are going into their senior year of high school. If you do not know, Ramah is a Conservative Jewish movement-affiliated summer camp, with nine camps successfully running all over North America. As somebody who grew up at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, I had many personal camp traditions that I enjoyed—for example, the way the tunes of services sound or how people dress on Shabbat. However, meeting people from different Ramah Camps showed me how significant differences can be just within the practice of Conservative Judaism. I loved learning about the differences between the traditions, and I even found ones I will be taking back with me to other Jewish spaces in my life.
While I was in Israel this summer, I was there during quite a historic time in the Jewish State's history. Many protests took place against laws passed, and the extremes on all sides of the arguments passionately stood their ground outside to protest despite the heat. At first, I was pretty upset about these protests, because I had always hoped for Jewish people to unite in Israel. Yet, when I continued to watch the protests, I noticed that they were all filled with people holding Israeli flags. This small act showed me that although Israel may be full of Jewish people with different beliefs, they are all protesting to make Israel the best it can be. This summer in Israel, I learned lots of valuable lessons. However, the most valuable lesson was that although people come from different backgrounds, they can be unified while still having different beliefs.