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September 14, 1984 - Image 93

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-09-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISFF NEWS friday, September , ,4„1984

93

NEWS

For U.S students in srael, the impressions are lasting

F.)

Students from the U.S. at Tel Aviv University's six-month
overseas student program: "I left a little part of me here and
had to find out what it was."

BY MICHAL LEVENTHAL
Special to The Jewish News

My husband, Marc, and I
made aliyah four years ago.
We went to greet some of the
students in the Tel Aviv
University overseas pro-
gram, which encourages
American students to par-
ticipate in a six-month
tour/study stint (for which
they receive college credit).
- The aim is to foster Zionism
and perhaps even provide
the catalyst for an "aliyah"
or two.
But none of the charming
anecdotes of our life in Is-
rael that we were prepared
to tell turned out to be
necessary: These American
students, most 20 years of
age, began to describe their
own impressions of Israel,
reminding us of ourselves
when we, too, were their
age.
Troy Sherman, of Or-
lando, Fla., attends the
University of Gainsville.
His dark coloring and gen-
eral appearance lend him
the aspect of an Israeli in an
American disguise. He told
us how his "bond" with Is-
rael began b!default: You
could say I come from the
typical assimilated Ameri-
can Jewish family. My par-
ents are active in Israeli
causes. They started the
local Magen David Adorn
(Israeli ambulance) cam-
paign, but it was an abstract
concept for them. They
never really mentioned Is-
rael's reality for me. My
friend was going to Israel a
few years ago and said,
`Why not come along?" I de:
cided, why not?
"I am the first person in
my family to come to Israel
and it really gave me an

.

idea what this country was
about. When I went back to
America, I found it a little
hard to adjust. Suddenly,
there are these Jews on the
other side of the world and
there's this bond between
you. After that first visit, I
wanted to come back to Is-
rael. I left a little part of me
here and had to come back
to find out what it was."
Steven Kauderer is from
Rosyln, N. Y. and attends
Vassar. He is tall, engaging
young man with an outlook
which seems unusual in his
generation. "I come from a
very Jewish and Zionist
household. I attended Camp
Ramah (run by the Conser-
vative Movement in
America), for many years,
and Israel has always been
very special for me. Ever
since high school I have
wanted to spend my junior
year of college here. I al-
ways feel that this is my
`homeland' in the real sense.
It is really a special place."
When I asked him in what
way, he responded,
"Spiritually, I guess you'd
say, it's way above, where we
came from. I feel that this is
part of me. It's intangible,
but it's there, very strong.
It's not right for people to
compare Israel to America.
Here, I'm a Jew and in the
majority. I love that. Even
when something upsets me,
I just remember that special
esoteric quality about Is-
rael, that spiritual part
which makes me glad I'm
here, makes me proud."
Jody Katz,.of Milwaukee,
who attends the University
of Wisconsin, feels she be-
longs in Israel, but for hap-

penstance, she should be
living here and loving Is-
rael, even with its problems.
"I've been here many times.
My parents have seriously
considered coming, but the
career adjustments my
father would have to make
were too overwhelming, so
they visit all the time, at
least once a year. They love
it. Basically, the reason I'm
not living here permanently
is because my family isn't
here.
"There are problems here,
though. Firstly, there's the
difficult bureaucracy and
then there's the problem
with religion. I'm Reform,
which isn't recognized offi-
cially here so sometimes I
don't feel quite conifortable,
even though I respect Or-
thodoxy. Israel feels like
one big family to me and I
appreciate how everyone is
concerned about each other,
especially the children and
the new generation."
Ellen Semayn, of Miami,
attends the University of
Florida. She begins humor-
ously: "I had the typical
American Jewish upbring-
ing. You know, you go to
temple about three times a
year, and that's it. The first
time I came here was on a
family trip when I was in
junior high school. It was a
five-star affair and I really
didn't feel anything then,
except that I was missing
something.
"When I heard of a High
School Israel Program, I de-
cided to go. I came back and
spent two months of my
senior year here and
enjoyed it immensely. Now I
am back to live here, even
though it's only for six
months. It's a much more
realistic way to experience
Israel, not like back home in
the U.S. where I wore a
`Coca-Cola' T-shirt with
Hebrew lettering to high
school and kept getting
dirty looks."
Sharon Holland, of Long
Island, where she attends
Hofstra University, is corn-
ing back to her "roots." Her
curly brown hair and big
dark eyes can fit the image
of either "American" or "Is-
rael". Ironically, the exter-
nal Sharon is a mirror of the
inner Sharon. "My mother
was born here (Israel) and
my father lived here half his
life, but after they married,
they moved to Amerca, the
`land of opportunity.' I wish
they had never gone to
America.
"I've been here many
times and I've reached the
point where I'm very com-
fortable here. There's noth-
ing I expect from this coun-
try that I didn't find and
nothing that I didn't expect
that I want to find. When
I'm here I feel like staying
forever, but when I'm back
in the States, Lean feel like
this too. It's as if I have a
double identity." I asked her

which identity she thought
would win. "I don't know.
Right now, while I'm in Is-
rael, it's the Israeli identity
that's the overpowering
one."
Melissa Widerker of
Westchester, N.Y., goes to
New York University. She
has the opposite problem of
most of the other students.
Her family is moving to Is-
rael and she's trying to de-
cide what to do.
"I come from a very
Jewish and Zionistic family.
I came here several times
before, once on a tour with
NCSY. My family is plan-
ning to make aliyah when I
graduate from NYU and my
brother and his fiancee have
alreayd made aliyah. They
all have a love for this coun-

try that I haven't seemed to
pick up yet, so I'm hoping
that in these six months I'll
be able to decide what to do.
If my whole family is going
to be here in Israel, I'm not
going to want to be back in
New York."
of
Aranov,
Eitan
Westbury, N.Y. attends
Cornell University. His
situation is much like
Melissa's in that his whole
family is planning to live
here. He has already lived
in Israel.
"Ever since then I have
felt that Israel and only Is-
rael was my home in a way
America could never be." In
a slow smile he confides that
it is hard to think so far in
advance, but asserts that "if
Israel is to survive into the

21st Century I cannot im-
agine any of my descen-
dants not being Israeli. I'm
hoping to go to dental school
here, and make aliyah at
the same time."

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