Last week was dedicated to Israel, our Jewish homeland. Led by our 8th grade class (and resident experts in Israeli history and culture), we started with a somber observance of Yom Hazikaron (Israel's Memorial Day) and then switched to the joyous celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel's Independence Day (and 74th birthday). All fun and games aside, the 8th grade students shared their reflections on their recent trip where they immersed themselves in learning about Israel's complicated past and future. Here's a particularly eloquent comment:
Israel is often referred to as "the Jewish homeland", but for a while, it was hard to see it as such. It wasn't that we didn't talk about it every chance we got – because we did – but rather because the weight of the word "homeland" had never really sunk in. On this year's unconventional Israel trip, I got a chance to see what "homeland" really meant, albeit in a classroom not in Israel, but on the sandy shore of Hawaii. As we delved into everything from ancient history to modern politics, I began to slowly understand what it meant for somewhere to be a "homeland", not an always perfect oasis that serves as an escape from the rest of the world, but rather a flawed, loving, living thing to constantly work on bettering.
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