Day 1 in Israel

Our first night in Israel will be spent in the north, somewhat in the middle of nowhere as I have been told. After a long extended day of travel, tonight we will celebrate Shabbat. There are about 35 Americans and 7 Israelis on our trip. A few of us just played our first games of pickup hoops in the Holy Land. My game was anything but holy.

I did learn a few basics today:

– 1 US Dollar equals 3.5 Israeli Shekels.

– Israel is about the size of New Jersey, geographically.

– “Toda” is thank you in Hebrew.

– Jewish men and women in Israel over the age of 18 are required to serve 32 months and 24 months, respectively. This concept of compulsory enlistment is called conscription.

Lastly, our group leader, Dror (Hebrew for “freedom”), gave a nice talk about the importance of living outside of one’s comfort zone. He described it as a core principle of being an Israeli Jew. I have believed in and tried to live by this principle for several years now. It is essentially the action oriented equivalent of maintaining a growth mindset. It is not comfortable, natural, or easy to make change a constant and to pursue unfamiliar experiences, but I do believe it is well worthwhile.