April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Arielle Miodownik Makes the Most of Her Time at MMY

Arielle Miodownik is studying at Michlelet Mevaseret Yerushalayim (MMY) in Jerusalem. She grew up in Highland Park, attended RPRY for elementary school and Bruriah for high school. Her family davens at Congregation Ahavas Achim, where her father is the rabbi.

Her next stop? Stern College.

I chose to go to MMY for many reasons. The biggest factors that pushed me to come here were the level and type of learning, combined with the friendly and warm atmosphere. With each day I spend here, many other amazing details of MMY have stood out to me, making it a great experience so far.

I have mostly heard that you need to have goals for yourself before the year, even if they are not concrete. One of my teachers began the first class with the lesson of beginning with the end in mind, an idea that is a Jewish value and also a secular one. My goals have been more extended so that I have the freedom to take them with me in different ways.

The most important thing to me is to grow as a person; this includes my middot and connection to Hashem, but also my learning and ability to connect to the Land of Israel. As I think of each aspect individually, I have more detailed and personal goals within the category to guide me throughout my year. My teachers have also given me more to think about in terms of growth, and given me even more to develop and put in my daily routine and list of goals (I have both a mental and written list). Each girl comes into MMY with different goals, and it is beautiful watching everyone try hard and push themselves to higher standards.

One of my favorite experiences in MMY so far has been the visit to the Kotel on the first night. I don’t want to spoil too much of it for those who will be coming next year, but Rabbi Katz delivered powerful speeches in different spots throughout the Old City, giving me a deeper connection to Israel and the Jewish nation.

Baruch Hashem, I had a very easy and quick adjustment; I felt comfortable in MMY once all of my things were unpacked and my room was put together. So far the biggest issue would probably be figuring out how to manage my time in a way that is balanced. A lot of my time is used for domestic activities such as cooking or doing laundry and it is hard to fit it into the schedule when I have something else already planned for the day. MMY has a great schedule that includes a long lunch break, so some days I will spend time grocery shopping and taking care of small things then. Even when time seems to slip away when spending time with friends or talking to teachers and I can’t finish everything I wanted to, there is plenty of time at night or the next day.

A part of Israel that is so central but I overlooked when thinking about this year is the Kotel. I have gone to the Kotel many times before this year and I always appreciated it, but being at MMY has given me the opportunity to connect with it on a deeper level. MMY is in a great location and I have walked to the Kotel many times already or taken a shuttle. Each visit gives me a different experience and perspective. For example, I recently walked to the Kotel on Sukkot with my friend and we were keeping the second day when most of Israel wasn’t. As we were walking through the Old City, little boys were giving out water for those who were being Oleh l’Regel and it was a beautiful scene to observe and participate in. Boys were buying cases of water and giving it out to whoever was thirsty, without any questions or concerns about who was taking. It stirred a deep sense of nationalism in us and reminded us of the special opportunity we have to be in this country.

In general, I would say the culture is different, but not shocking. I have seen many Jews who do not know each other taking care of each other, and it seems very common and even natural here. I recently saw a man in a wheelchair pushing a stroller while being pushed by another man up a steep hill. This would only happen in Israel, and these moments happen so often! The hustle and bustle of the shuk and the crowded streets at certain times can be overwhelming, but also add to the sense of nationalism and Jewish pride. When these situations seem overwhelming, I enjoy reminding myself of how miraculous it is that it can be so crowded and full of life in Israel, and how fortunate I am to be a part of it for the year!

I’ve enjoyed each Shabbat immensely. I don’t think I can single one out as my favorite yet, because each community is so different and great to experience. So far I have visited Har Nof, Neve Yaakov, Katamon, Ramat Eshkol and Rechavia. I began taking pictures of the views from the windows of each house because I love seeing the town I am staying in and the view of other towns on mountains nearby. Everywhere I have traveled to has given me a different aspect of Israel that is unique to this country that I find so special. After each Shabbos so far I’ve been telling myself that that was my favorite one and I look forward to continuing traveling Israel in this way.

I consider one of my teachers someone I look up to and hopefully will have a connection to. I don’t think she would want to be mentioned by name, but just from being in her class, this teacher’s middot really shine through. She is someone I aspire to be like and can see myself following a similar path in the future, so I’m excited to see where the opportunity I have to learn with her will lead to!

One of my favorite classes (even though it is so hard to choose) is a class that runs only once a week called Netivot Ba’avodat Hashem with Mrs. Isaacson. Each class expands on a mussar topic by a new sefer, so we cover many sefarim and new ideas weekly! I really enjoy the insights Mrs. Isaacson adds to the sefarim we learn together and the practical advice that I leave the class with.

I’m excited to continue learning and get back into class full force! I’m also looking forward to many tiyulim throughout the rest of the year and more opportunities to explore Israel and have “chavayot.” MMY has so much to offer, and I can’t wait to get fully into it and enjoy everything that comes my way. The first few months have gone by very quickly, so I know I need to take advantage of every moment!

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