• Discovering Oneself - 07/01/2017

    This post first appeared on Israel Campus Roundtable.

    Just over one week ago I landed in Israel, a place that is simultaneously foreign yet familiar. This is my fifth trip to the country. When Israelis find out that I don’t have any family in the country yet chose to travel here so frequently they are confused as to why. “Australia is nice too, why don’t you travel there?” they ask. The answer is a complex one that I discover in layers each successive time I visit. On this latest foray into the Holy Land I discover even more reasons why my second home is over 5,000 miles from my native land. In the past week I’ve discovered a new aspect of my connection to Israel, a connection that can only be revealed by going beyond being a tourist and into the realm of an American living and experiencing daily life.

    ​In my past four trips I have seen Israel almost as if an exhibit in a museum.  This time I’ve been able to actually experience and absorb Israeli culture – such as the camaraderie of an Israeli workplace that is more of a close-knit family than a corporation. After just a few days I felt connected with my coworkers as we joke with each other during coffee breaks, talk about differences between American and Israeli families and learn together about everything from polyethylene to new Hebrew words. It is in these moments that I am reminded about the connection and communal bond all Jews share, even those who reside an ocean away. It really hits home how Israel is more than just the immense beauty as the sun is about to set over the Mediterranean. It is about being a home and a family that I can’t wait to live in for the rest of the summer. 

    Josh Usiskin, Worcester Polytechnic University ’19, participated on Birthright and is interning this summer with Carmel Olefins as a Boston Onward Israel Haifa 2017 participant.