י״ז בשבט ה׳תשע״ז (February 13, 2017) A Prayer in the Desert
Only two days after arriving in Israel from halfway across the world, we departed from our new home at the Goldstein Youth Village in Jerusalem on the first tiyul of the semester, to an insignificant dot in the Negev desert-a town called Be’erotayim, with a population of less than ten.
There was a single moment on that trip, the first time that each and every person on TRY felt their first true connection to their ancestors and to this land while on this program. I, along with everybody else, had a personal conversation with G-d in the middle of the desert, right where our nomadic patriarchs had passed through.
I broke the silence of the midbar (desert) by speaking out loud to G-d in a meditative prayer. For almost half an hour, we took our own time to spark our own individual connections with Judaism. The view was gorgeous, with nothing but my peers and endless desert in the distance. I didn’t hear anything except the sound of my own voice as I wondered about these next four months and reflected about my life at home.
That short time that we spent in the Negev consumed in prayer didn’t just connect me to my religion, my ancestors, and Israel. It also connected me to my peers. The fact that we were all going through similar experiences in the same place helped me relate to people who were practically strangers. Just a few days into our experience of a lifetime, 44 teenagers from all over North America found a way to connect to one another, our common ancestors, the land, the Jewish people and G-d through individual, personal prayer.