College essay -Eduardo Rozen- Evaluate a significant experience and how it affected you Walking to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel is the best experience for a Jew in the world. The sound of constant prayer, the thought of the holiest place being right beyond the wall running through my mind, the constant controversy that the wall has caused causing a gut wrenching feeling, but this time it was different. Walking hand in hand with my new Muslim Israeli friend, Ibrahim, was an experience that I will never forget in my life; leading him up to the wall, explaining what my traditions of wearing Tephilim were, making him understand where my ideologies come from. This along with many other experiences were shared along with people whom I have been always told are the enemy, that the blood sweat and tears of the Jewish people are stained on their hands, and now I was sharing this unique and fantastic experience with one of them and not only were we not enemies, we were friends.
I along with 9 other Jewish High School Juniors from San Diego, 10 Jews from a town in Israel Sha’ar Hanegev, and 20 Arab Israelis from two different cities in Israel were chosen to go on a three week program called JITLI (Jacobs International Teen Leadership institution). We all had to go through a rigorous selection process and a hard 8 months of preparation for the mere three weeks. The program, through highly controversial and heated discussions, various tours, and displays of the different cultures is meant to mend the ways between two, so called, arch nemeses. This program’s goal is to change perspectives and acquire a whole view on the Arab-Israeli conflict that haunts every Jew and every Muslim in their nightmares. Through the program we try to diminishing this nightmare by coming to terms with the other side, to make peace in a region in which peace is almost unattainable by understanding. We try to comfort the nightmare, we try to solve problems.
I found my realization of the program while making my way to the holiest place for the Islamic Religion in Israel: The Temple Mount where The Dome of the Rock resides. I was again with Ibrahim, but this time it was he who was leading me. Showing me his rituals of bathing before entering the holy site, showing me the Qur’an (main religious text in Islam) and its blessings, and portraying his culture in a way I had never seen before. This was the point in the trip where I really grew. I realized that we are all the same; one religion or the other, we are both human. I realized that no matter what a person beliefs are that human nature always takes over. I realized that religion is important to both sides but in the end we share the same G-d.
Finding ones comfort zone is something humans always strive for. Whether it is relying on your best juke to get by a defender or eating the same pizza that you have been eating for your whole life one wants it. But sometimes in life you have to take a chance and step out of that zone that one holds so dear to them in order to achieve greatness. Through this program I was able to step out of my comfort zone and do something so wild as to go hand in hand to the Western Wall with the enemy. The realizations I was able to reach through the program have undeniably shaped the rest of my life’s path. As relation to before the program if someone were to bash a Muslim just for being Muslim I would have let it slip right past my hand, but now I strive for that person to look past the religion and nationality, to look at the person for who they truly are and then evaluate their character. I am now able to reconcile disputes between two parties and help them see both sides of the argument equally. Through the program I was able to discover myself: a staunch believer in human kind, and an open-minded individual.