On the Fly: Last Stop: Israel | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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On the Fly: Last Stop: Israel 

Published December 19, 2014 at 8:41 a.m.

click to enlarge The girls in Jerusalem - JESSICA LARA TICKTIN
  • Jessica Lara Ticktin
  • The girls in Jerusalem
One of the many questions we were asked before we embarked upon this ambitious journey was, “Why are you going to the Middle East?” Given the recent war here, and the unrest in the general region, people were concerned about our safety.

Twenty years ago, I came to Israel to work on a kibbutz for the summer and to explore my Jewish identity. It felt important to me as a young adult, especially because I had no real sense of what it meant to be Jewish. I had always existed in between worlds. 

I grew up with a Jewish-atheist father and a non-Jewish mother (even though she converted, in my opinion, she remained a Christian at heart), and I was raised in a Protestant community. I had no Jewish friends, and though we celebrated all the Jewish holidays, I didn’t really understand what it meant to be a Jew — except that I was different.

Going to Israel back then was a transformative experience. I found myself not only in a community of Jews but in a whole country of Jews. My extended family and newfound friends welcomed me into their homes. There was no need to explain why I didn’t eat pork or why I didn’t celebrate Christmas.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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