When a kid arrives at an amusement park for the first time and gets in line for his first ride, it’s as if a swarm of butterflies invades his tummy and circle around in a flutter of chaos. The minute the kid pulls the bar down on top of his lap, he squeezes his eyes shut in terror and excitement of what is about to come.
Before embarking on JITLI, I was that little kid at his first amusement park. As our plane landed, nerves settled into every ounce of me. Every breath was shallow and every smile lay in wait. The minute we rolled our suitcases and carried our lethargic bodies into the Ben Gurion Airport, I felt alive.
Each moment on JITLI is memorable and something that I will never forget and yearn to relive.
On the second to last day at our final ceremony, the reality of JITLI embraced me and flooded my body with truth and hope. In the dark, sitting on a stage, girls were seated Jew, Arab, Jew, Arab. And together, we all sang One Day by Matisyahu. We sang this chorus, bodies close together, feeling every lyric:
All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play
JITLI brings together the children to play and aids in accomplishing the hope of one day.
JITLI taught me to smile more, to laugh more, taught me to give each person and relationship a chance, to go out on a limb and trust that the limb won’t break, and if it does, that someone will be there to catch you. JITLI taught me to throw myself into new and awkward and different situations, taught me to embrace each moment fully, the good and the bad and the awkward. JITLI taught me to open up and when I do, others will as well. JITLI taught me to love with no boundaries, taught me to explore how close I can get to someone in two weeks, and taught me to not assume anything, to be okay with holes in our knowledge, realizing that the experience is there to fill it.