"No otherplace I would rather be," terror victim wrote before her death.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Editor's note: The following column was written by Marla
Bennett, a San Diego native who was killed in the July 31
cafeteria bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She
wrote this piece in May for the Avi Chai Bookshelf a project
for participants in Birthright Israel.
to look like. The air is charged with our debates and dis-
cussions as we try to assimilate into our lives all that
we've learned. Life here is magical.
It's also been difficult. Just a month after I arrived, the
current intifada (Palestinian uprising) began. My time here
has been dramatically affected by both the security situa-
tion and by the events happening around me.
I am extremely cautious about where I go and when; I avoid
crowded areas and alter my routine when I feel at all threatened.
But I also feel energized by the opportunity to support
Israel during a difficult period. This is undoubtedly an
important historic moment for both Israel and for the
Jewish people. I have the privilege of reporting to my
friends and family in the U.S. about the realities of living
in Israel at this time and I also have the honor of being an
American choosing to remain in Israel, and assist, however
minimally, in Israel's triumph.
I remain in Israel this year as part
of the Pardes Educators Program, a
joint program between Pardes and
Hebrew University. At Hebrew
University, I am completing a mas-
ter's degree in Jewish education
while I continue to study classical
Jewish texts at Pardes.
've been living in Israel for over a year and a -half
now, and my favorite thing to do here is go to the
I know, not the most exciting response from
someone living in Jerusalem these days. But going grocery
shopping here — deciphering the Hebrew labels and
delighting in all of the kosher prod-
ucts — as well as picking up my dry
cleaning, standing in long lines at
the bank and waiting in the hungry
mob at the bakery — means that I
I am not a tourist; I deal with Israel
and all of its complexities, confusion,
joy and pain every single day. And I
I got the "Israel bug" during my
I receive a stipend each month
junior year, when I studied at the
from the AVI CHAI Foundation,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I
which is funding the program, and
had traveled in Israel before, but liv- Marla Bennett with her boyfriend, Michael
after I complete the degree in June
ing here was a qualitatively different Simon in Jerusalem.
2003, I have made a commitment
to teach in a Jewish school in
I left knowing I would return. I
was not sure whether I would study or work, but I knew
next year and a half that I will
that my love for Israel, my desire to understand this coun-
spend in Israel, I feel excited, worried, but more than any-
try and my desire to learn more about Judaism were not
thing else, lucky.
I am excited that I can spend another year and a half
a place that truly feels like home, a home in which I
Months Of Learning
surrounded by an amazing community of bright and
I came back to Israel a year and a half ago — and what a
friends who constantly help me to question
year and a half it has been. In September 2000, I began
studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, where I
I am worried for Israel — an historic moment this is, but
have been learning traditional Jewish texts from master
difficult and unpredictable. I feel lucky because the
teachers, with other students who represent a broad range
always wins out over the worry.
of Jewish backgrounds and perspectives.
of Torah and Talmud study, close
I have learned more in my year and a half of study at
community far outweigh the fears.
Pardes than I learned during my entire undergraduate
Jerusalem — and I need only go to
career. But my learning is a result not only of the hours I
struck once again by how lucky I am
spend pouring over material in the
to live here. There is no other place in the world where I
house of study), but also of my life in Jerusalem.
rather be right now. ❑
Here in Jerusalem, I've found a community of seekers:
people who like me want to try living in another coun-
— This article was distributed in partnership with Jewish
try, who want to know more about Judaism; people who
Family e:3- Life (wwwjflmedia.com)
are trying to figure out exactly what they want their lives
From the pages of the Jewish News for
this week 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60
For the first time in its 44-year his-
tory, the Waltham, Mass.-based
Brandeis University National
Women's Committee is inviting
men to join.
A joint statement issued by the
Jewish Community Council of
Metropolitan Detroit and the
Detroit Council of Islamic
Organizations says the Jewish and
Muslim communities of Detroit
condemn the atrocities and ethnic
cleansing taking place in Bosnia
The Married Group of Temple
Beth El in Bloomfield Township
announces a new program called
"Preparing for Jewish Parenting."
Dr. Irving I. Edgar's newest
work, A History of Early Jewish
Physicians in the State of Michigan,
The Detroit Chaim Weizmann
Society, disbanding after 19 years of
charitable service, presents a $6,500
check to the Weizmann Institute of
Science in Rehovot Israel.
Bayard H. Friedman, a 35-year-old
attorney, is the first Jewish council-
man in Fort Worth, Tex.
Congregation B'nai Jacob will
erect a building on Eight Mile
Road in Detroit.
Airman First Class Sylvia Pilsen of
Massachusetts becomes the first
woman Jewish chaplain's assistant
in the U.S. armed forces.
A dinner held at Franklin Hills
Country Club in Farmington Hills
raises $365,000 in War Bonds.
Detective Sergeant Albert Shapiro
leaves the Detroit Police Force to
become a captain in the Marines.
— Compiled by Holly Teasdle,
archivist, the Leo M. Franklin
Archives, Temple Beth El