Blog  A Yom Ha’atzmaut Essay from a New Olah

A Yom Ha’atzmaut Essay from a New Olah

69002_10151625762286477_825043303_nI never wanted to be a teacher. I was never that kid in kindergarten who spoke longingly about a career shaping young minds. Teaching was a career that fell into my lap, and I have grown to love the job. Every so often, my high school students blow me away with amazing comments or new thoughts. With each one, I’m reminded that there is so much more to these high-schoolers, who just need the right moment to discover what’s on their mind, and to express it. Although teaching has its ups and downs, it was not until recently that I came to understand how truly lucky I am to teach in this place – about this place.

I teach for an American high school program in Israel. The program’s core curriculum focuses on the study of Jewish history from the biblical period until today. For three hours each day, I am privileged not only to teach young adults, but also to instill a Jewish identity and a relationship with Israel within them. One Thursday last month, I traveled – with my class of 15 students – north to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) as part of their curriculum. Earlier that week we had begun to study the development of Zionist thought that had prompted a series of aliyot, mass immigrations, to the State of Israel. This lesson culminated in a trip to the site of these original settlements. For me, this particular trip is the most meaningful of all the trips we take during the semester, but until last month, I’d never had the chance to express fully why it’s so important.

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Shira Kleinman, a recent olah, teaches Jewish history in the NFTY-EIE High School in Israel program and is a former Eisner Camp camper and staff member.