What defines me as a Jew? This past summer I made aliyah to Israel with Taglit-Birthright through Kesher, an indescribable experience to say the least. While observing Shabbat in Jerusalem, we were asked what we believed the quintessential component is of being a Jew. Being surrounded by friends from all over the United States, Canada, and Israel, in a land filled with so much history, many thoughts came flooding into my mind. Perhaps wearing tefillin while praying at the Kotel (Western Wall)? Supporting Israel as a country and land of the Jewish people? Perhaps going to Israel wasn’t the epitome of being Jewish, but rather observing the holidays such as Yom Kippur and Pesach? Or who knows, it is quite possible eating the most scrumptious falafel pita for lunch every day in different areas of Israel made me a real Jew.
So which one characteristic makes me a Jew? I still haven’t determined my answer yet. My hope is that after seeing many sites in Israel, and starting a new role as a Hebrew teacher in the same Hebrew School where I once studied myself, that I can continue this journey of self-discovery of what makes me a Jew.
by Jared Berry