Earlier this month, we remembered Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut are equally important to the Jewish people and the people of Israel. Students observed Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, by standing together near the Silent Tree on Library Walk and saying Kaddish for Israeli and Jewish lives lost. They prayed and shared their respect for the people who have given their lives for the safety of others – the people who have given their lives for something bigger, for an ideal, for a dream we all share.
As we stood near the Silent Tree and shared our respect, I was moved to see so many of our students in UC San Diego share the same feelings, the same value for the same cause and our people. I always know that the Jewish people have a strong a bond as people, yet after this Yom Hazikron I see us as one. We are united as one body, one soul whether we see it or not, or whether we act like one or not. I saw the same strong feelings that I have for my friends and family in the eyes of the students. That experience moved me.
And again at Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, I saw the same joy on their faces when we celebrated together, danced together and rejoiced. As an Israeli who came to UC San Diego Hillel to work with students and learn more about my people in America, I have learned the most important lesson of all. I have learned about peoplehood, closeness, and sharing a deep love and strong feelings with people I have known for only several months. I have learned where the Jewish people gets its strength. Thanks to the hearts and minds of the UC San Diego students, I had learned more about the future and past of the Jewish people than ever before.
By Dor Guata, UC San Diego Hillel Israel Fellow