Vanessa | Masa Israel

participant year: 
The Conservative Yeshiva has become an extended family for my year in Jerusalem. Some people are here all day, some for classes a couple times a week, some are from Europe, South America, and the U.S, and this broader idea of Judaism has opened my eyes to Jewish life in the world.
This is an egalitarian davening community, and we almost always make a minyan. During this school year, there has only been one day of a hundred when a community member who is in the year of mourning could not say Kaddish during Shacharit. Mincha is never a problem. If you want to try leading davening for the first time, if you want to learn how to put on tefillin, if you want to ask critical questions and philosophical questions about Judaism, this is a good place to start. Many of the teachers here feel like 'my rabbi' because they are passionate and open-minded and challenge me. I personally struggle with spirituality and religious practice, but this year at the CY has given me tools to create a Jewish practice that makes me willing to build my Judaism.
This year, there was a pilot program called "Kehillah Medeberet," (Community in Dialogue) which had rotating activities that spurned discussion about any relevant topics to our lives. During election season, peers researched an acted out the candidates and platforms and we simulated a vote. During the mini-war, we journaled and debriefed and released. It is so helpful that a few hours each week are dedicated to reflective programming. Basically every week, people from other programs joined our Thursday discussion and meal to hear the various guest speakers and to be part of our welcoming community. Hopefully it will continue and grow!
The CY takes students on tiyulim - in Jerusalem and out. We saw the north and the south on Shabbatot, we visited Rav Kook's house, we went to the biblical gardens, and the list goes on. And these trips are part of CY package deal. Classroom learning is important, but so is getting a taste of the country where you're learning. Overall, as Rabbi Goldfarb would say, "Mayode Kadai."