For the past year and a half, I have participated in the Leadership Together (L2G) program, which pairs participants from small Jewish communities in the Southeast United States with Israelis from Chattanooga's sister city in Hadera, Israel.
My biggest takeaway from the L2G program and the trip to Israel was an overwhelming sense of community. I felt it when I went to my Israeli partner, Shira's, family home for Shabbat dinner. Although the setting was new, the prayers and traditions seemed very familiar. As I sat down with Shira's whole extended family, it reminded me of the Shabbats I spent as a child.
I also noticed a sense of community with my fellow Southeast cohorts. The 15 of us spent the Israel trip getting to know one another. We found a connection right away by sharing our similar experiences of living in small Jewish communities. Once we dug deeper, we found even more in common. The 15 of us built a community that was made stronger by our shared experiences and values.
Overall, my Israel trip will remain in my heart for years to come, and I feel privileged for the relationship I further established.