Emanuele Boccia, our Israel Engagement Officer, looks back on a week's staff training in Israel
I finally fell in love with Israel again.
Yes, I say finally as it had been a while since I reached such a deep level of engagement as I did in this last trip with UJS, as part of our Chazon training for the new team.
This made the difference from enjoying my time in Israel greatly and falling in love with it again.
Five days of deep involvement with Israeli society might not seem enough to completely get to know a whole country and its people, but they are definitely an amazing starting point to get to meet amazing organisations and inspiring individuals who put their soul into shaping Israeli society and helping to improve it with long-term visions.
The UJS Chazon in Israel focused mainly on three areas: Israel Engagement, Political Activism and Jewish Identity.
The three areas were widely explored throughout the trip. From meeting with Israeli and Palestinian political representatives to creating vlogs discovering the Israeli society, from visiting religious Yeshivot to studying with pluralist religious groups, from engaging with social issues within the country to looking at the relations with similar social challenges between the UK and Israel (for example refugee crises, LGBT campaigns within the Jewish community and so on), all these experiences helped us in our personal development and they will also allow us to create great programmes on campus, engaging students from across various spectrums.
It is not that common to find an organisation with such idealistic and pragmatic visions of its work on campus and relation to Israel and I have to thank UJS for providing us, the new team, with such an amazing opportunity to train in such a beautiful and yet complex country as Israel.
If you, as a student, are reading this blog, please know that we at UJS are here to support you in whatever project you have in mind that relates with Jewish life on campus or Israel and that we are all part of a big discourse and history which is still being shaped.
As a matter of fact, I often get asked why as diaspora Jews we should engage with Israel.
This trip strengthened my belief that diaspora Jewry holds a fundamental role in being part of this incredible unifying project that is Israel. Yes, I say “unifying” as no matter what our level of engagement is with this land, or what our political opinions are, we all have at hearts the wellbeing and future of Israel and we should all keep engaging with such a fundamental site of the history of the Jewish people and help build a society that can finally live in peace and prosper in the long term with citizens from all over the world, having freedom of expressing themselves.