It seems impossible to try and summaries my last ten months in Israel and in BINA in one article. I feel as if I’ve lived multiple lives, as multiple versions of myself, all in less than a year.
A constant theme for me this year was the concept of home, and what it means to me. My whole life, I saw Israel as my home, and I often saw my life as periods of time which I spent waiting until my next visit to Israel. But looking back, Israel wasn’t really my home while I was growing up. It was the place where most of my family lived, where I would go on holiday twice a year and work on my Hebrew and travel a bit. I didn’t see this country for all that it was, for all its complexity. And this year has taught me that every aspect of Israel is complicated: the culture, the politics, the history, the people, the religion. And it’s very possible, and actually good, to both love this country and disagree with certain aspects of it at the same time.
It was in seeing and exploring this complexity that I started to feel a sense of home here, regardless of which city, kibbutz or moshav I was in at that moment. In the last ten months, I’ve learned that Israelis are very upfront, honest and passionate people. Their no-bullshit attitude was overwhelming for me at the start, but it has become such a refreshing part of the culture – this notion of letting go of the reins a little bit and letting life just happen (in Hebrew it’s called “lizrom” – flowing). The truly amazing part of the culture is how warm and welcoming Israelis are, and how you can feel a sense of family and brother/sisterhood with people all over the country.
Of course, my real sense of home this year was in the people. It’s a very strange experience, moving into a tiny apartment with eight strangers and knowing that you’re about to spend the next ten months of your lives together. Living with the Gap has taught me that you can find connections with the people you least expect, and that there are countless people in this world who this can happen with, but that each friendship requires time and conscious effort and attention to be maintained.
Being in the Leap has taught me that there will always be cultural barriers between myself and Israelis. But as difficult as it can be, it’s also such a beautiful thing – to be able to share those differences with each other, and to learn from people who’ve lived such different lives to your own. Eventually, it starts to feel as if you’ve gotten to live through small moments in other people’s lives with them. And when you find someone who truly matters to you, and you fall in love with all the things that make them them, the cultural differences suddenly feel so much less significant, and so much easier to surmount.
The mechina has taught me that my relationships with people are constantly changing, because I’m constantly changing. And it’s such an incredible thing, to find someone who you can be your full authentic self with, and then to embrace the changes in your connection to each other which naturally come with your individual growth
We’ve spent the last few weeks in the mechina speaking a lot about goodbyes, and how much we don’t want to leave each other and close this chapter of our lives. But something I have come to realise is that, even though it feels that way, this is not the end. Finishing mechina and moving onto the next part of our lives is simply a continuation of the last ten months. It’s a continuation of my growth, and my relationships with every person that I’ve met this year, but in a different way, in new places, and with new people getting added to my story along the way. I am beyond grateful for every single day that I’ve spent in BINA and in Israel, and I’m so excited to continue this story, and watch as the rest of my family in this mechina continue their’s.