The emotional, action filled weeks in Israel were filled with so many memorable times that it is hard to single out a specific event. This is due not only to the high intensity in which we did activities, but also because many of them seem equally as important and encompass the goals of the program. However, while these two events didn’t occur consecutively, I believe they are some of the best examples I can offer of what Jitli is meant for.
One event would be our visit the temple mount, where the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock stand. Prior to our visit there had been riots, and tensions where high, which could be felt not only by the other visitors but also visually by the presence of an extraordinarily high count of armed guards. However, in the midst of all this negativity, Jitli was able to bring an atmosphere of hope in that we traveled the mosque in small groups of 4, a mixture of Jews and Arabs. In my own group, consisting of Nevo (Shar HaNegev), Mohanned (Segev Shalom), and Feras (Lakkia), we first visited the mosque, and listened to their information on the Islamic history and religious significance of the site.
Now before explaining the significance I’d like to explore the second event. On our visit to Yad Vahsem, the Holocaust museum, a large triangular prism of oppressive concrete filled with the terrifying evidence of what happened to the Jews only 70 years ago. We were traveling in a large group led by a very kind and knowledgeable tour guide. However, I felt uncomfortable being forced to listen in this manner and found myself exploring the museum on my own, taking in the exhibits, and attempting to form my own opinions. However, I soon found myself accompanied by another member of the group, Feras, one of the Arabs. Instead of continuing alone, we decided to experience the rest together, as we stopped at each exhibit and I did my best to explain to him everything I knew about the Holocaust in a personal way if he had any questions.
Now to me, these represented Jitli perfectly because of the way they show how each group of people was able to discuss with each other and teach their counterparts about their own culture in a peaceful way, regardless of the tensions or emotions of others that were occurring all around. There is truly a sense of family between everyone on the trip, and I hope that we can help bring this love into our own lives to help promote peace and coexistence in the future.