Don’t Let Fear Stop You: My Trip to Israel

November 8, 2011
My Trip to Israel

A few summers ago I visited Israel on a group excursion. As a Jewish immigrant from the Former Soviet Union living in America, the land of Israel has always had the ring of the Jewish homeland. Having been raised secular, recognizing Israel as my homeland has always been a tough concept for me to grasp.

Many people who visit the Kotel in Jerusalem (also known as the Wailing Wall) leave with with their wishes granted and feeling like they were part of something larger than themselves. For me the journey to Israel was spiritual and complex. The most amazing place that I visited in Israel was Jerusalem. Upon my arrival to Jerusalem I examined myself for that feeling of home. The climate in the city was warm and lacked humidity. The food was plentiful and the service was amazing. We were fortunate enough to spend two days at a women’s seminary and hear wonderful speakers from members of the religious community.

The most talented speaker was an older Jewish woman who spoke to us about her role as a female in the Orthodox Jewish community. As she paced back and forth, her hair covered in a shawl, her voice resonated with undeniable strength. “Many people,” she said, “See the women in Orthodox communities as being weak, but I assure you this is not the case.”

Another amazing experience was visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Chevron. This experience was perhaps the most risky part of our tour since Chevron is currently under Palestinian rule. We took a bullet-proof yellow bus and, only from our windows, could see the women wearing their abayas.

Crossing the border into Chevron and entering the cave was the most powerful experience that I had while I was in Israel. The cave is divided in two sections, one for Jews and one for Arabs. As we were entering the cave someone spoke about the violence which happens routinely on this site. At the Wall, in Jerusalem, my experience was limited. It was only when I was able to get past the barrier that I was truly able to feel cleansed.

Another powerful experience, was visiting the Dead Sea. I had always heard people describe the Dead Sea and never quite understood it for what it was. For those who haven’t been, floating in the Dead Sea is a little bit like bathing in a pool of olive oil. The water is rich with salt, and blue, surrounded by mountains. On the beach, it is possible to dig out mud. This mud, when applied to face and hands dries up and washes away leaving your skin feeling smooth and refreshed. The overall experience is one of healing.

My trip to Israel was one of the best experiences of my life. After ten days in Israel my spirit and body felt healthier than ever. There are a lot of dangers and barriers which get in the way of people being able to appreciate Israel. But my advice would be that if you have the opportunity to visit Israel at any point in your life, do not let fear stop you!

About Alla Vilnyansky

Alla is a graduate student at Miami University who has traveled to Ukraine and Israel.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Let Fear Stop You: My Trip to Israel

  1. alyosha
    November 22, 2011

    This is a good article, but Chevron is not under Palestinian rule. Part of it is, but part of it is also under Israeli control, including–I’m pretty sure–the Cave of the Patriarchs.

    • Alla
      November 30, 2011

      Actually from physically being there I know there are only small Jewish settlements protected by armed guards, the cave itself is divided into two halves-one for Jews, one for Muslims

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