April 11, 2024
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Dalia Planer Gets ‘A Little Bit of Everything’ at Bar Ilan Israel XP

Dalia Planer is studying at the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan. She grew up in Teaneck, attended Yavneh Academy for elementary school and SAR for high school. Her family davens at Congregation Keter Torah.

Her next stop? Unclear at this stage, though all options are open.

Why did you choose to study at Israel Experience?

I chose to go on this program because it offers a little bit of everything, and that is something I was specifically looking for in my gap year program. There are Judaic studies college courses, general studies college courses, many great trip experiences, hiking, and many chesed opportunities.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

This year I wanted to grow as an individual person, as a Jew, as a student and as a friend. I also wanted to start to learn how to live independently.

What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

So far I have already made amazing friendships and great relationships with my madrichim, madrichot and other staff members. One of the most inspiring moments so far was when we were in the Golan for Shabbat. Our hotel had an incredible view of the Kinneret. As the sun was setting on Saturday evening, we all sat in a circle outside overlooking the Kinneret. We sang some songs, listened to a few divrei Torah and ended Shabbat together as one big family. This was our first Shabbat in Israel together, and this moment was one I would definitely remember.

What is one of your favorite classes on the Israel Experience at Bar Ilan?

One of my favorite classes is contemporary halachic issues. We discuss and learn about different opinions on modern halachic dilemmas. For example, we have been discussing the case in the Gemara of two men in the desert with one cup of water, and all the possibilities of what they can and should do.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest challenge is that I am away from my family.

How has your year been different from your expectations?

There was definitely no general culture shock for me because I’ve, thank God, been to Israel many times, but there are some little things about living here that are very different from what I expected. For example, shopping at the supermarket for food, which is all in a different language, is much harder than I would have expected. On the other hand, I love how on Friday afternoons the entire country shuts down in preparation for Shabbat. That is definitely not something you can experience anywhere else.

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?

My aunt’s house. It’s my home away from home for the year

Who is a figure on your program who you’ve connected with especially well?

So far, I have really connected with one of my madrichot, Hannah Defore. I feel like I can really relate to her because she has recently been through the same experiences that I am facing. She is always there to talk and hang out and help me with pretty much everything.

How has your transition to living in Israel been? Do you find it to be very different from where you grew up in Teaneck?

Living in Israel is definitely very different from living in Teaneck. I am now living in a dorm with a roommate and many other girls in the building. I had to learn how to share a kitchen and living space with others. There is definitely a sort of lack of privacy, but it is great to finally be living in Israel.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I’m most looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new places and enjoying the Land of Israel.

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