By Zander Wold
Hebrew U Rothberg Student Fall '10
There were three reasons why I chose to study abroad in Israel a couple of years ago. The first reason was to be in Israel, where so much history and important events have taken place. To be able to live in such a holy land appealed to me and it was so amazing to just be in the land and see all the great places. The second reason was because I wanted to be around fellow Jews interested in Judaism who were also great people. The third reason was to learn more about Judaism, and as I was learning Hebrew in school to be able to learn straight from the texts as well.
Shortly after I arrived in Jerusalem I found out about the Beit Midrash Program. I went the first week and I instantly fell in love with it. I realized this program incorporated all three reasons why I chose Jerusalem. I realized the location could not be better with a balcony right outside the Shul where you could see the entire city of Jerusalem. The people were amazing as well, many who were friends already and most of the others becoming friends through the program. These were the people I loved being around not only because they are nice and loving people, but because they also were interested in learning more about Judaism. On top of all that, the learning was incredible and in such a limited time each week I was able to learn so much with a great Chevruta. As my Hebrew was improving each week, I was able to understand more and more on my own and it was such a great feeling to be more independent while still have someone else with me who could answer any question I had.
I remember each week going in the Shul to study with my Chevruta and wishing I could stay outside and listen to the guest speaker because they seemed so interesting. Yet at the end of the night I felt bad for those who did not have Chevrutas because I felt I learned so much while having a good time. The program gave me a chance to learn whatever I wanted and I appreciated that greatly. The night finished off with a bunch of us walking back home together which was so much fun in itself.
Despite the location, people and learning, the real reason myself and most others chose to go to the Beit Midrash Program was the food. I remember the first event of the year not only had a cool band come play, but there was tons of sushi! Everyone was so impressed by the sushi there was no way we were not going to come back the next week. While originally disappointed to arrive the next week and see there was no sushi but bagels instead, the bagels gave me something to look forward to each week. Not only did I enjoy eating them and the famous tuna and other foods that came with them, but I enjoyed hearing the stories about how the bagels got there. I thought it was interesting to hear that the restaurant sent them on a taxi. Something like that does not happen in America. In reality, even though the food was great it was just an extra on top of everything else that helped make that semester my favorite of all four years of my college experience.