May 29, 2024
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Reflections of a Seminary Student in Israel; Lessons My ‘Kids’ Have Taught Me

These past two weeks have been the hardest weeks I’ve experienced in Israel. Constantly getting alerts to my phone about the next attack, having meetings about security and the precautions—it’s not easy. People I know are talking about going home or not leaving their dorms out of fear, but I am yet to think like that. As I am extremely aware and cautious of my surroundings, I refuse to let myself really get scared. The thought of going home hasn’t even crossed my mind—giving the enemy what they want is not an option, letting fear and paranoia into my head is not an option. I came to Israel wanting to make a difference and to stand with my country—no person or group of people attacking civilians is going to get in the way of that.

This year I am studying at Midreshet Torat Chessed, a seminary in Netanya at Bet Elazraki Children’s Home that combines Torah learning with chesed work on a daily basis. Working with my kids at Bet Elazraki (8-12-year-old Tromiot girls) has been amazing. They warmed up quickly and love the idea of an American being there for them. Whether I am doing homework with them, playing a game, or even just lying in their beds with them playing a game on my phone, I know I am affecting them. One girl turned to me and said, “Why are you here? There’s so many fun things to do in Israel.” I looked at her and said, “I’m here for you—to hang out and talk with you.” She smiled, sat back down on my lap and squeezed my hand. Yes, there are hard days where I question if I’m making a difference… But does that make me give up? Of course not. I continue to go back every day and continue on this amazing journey.

So, too, when our enemies start attacking people, and times get hard for the Jewish people—am I going to get scared and change my daily routine? No, chas v’shalom. Every day I will continue to grow and learn from my girls here at Bet Elazraki, who have already made an impact on my life and, hopefully, I will continue to impact theirs as well. Just as I will stay here, standing tall and proud for my country, my home. עם ישראל חי.

Kailah Kaner is from Englewood, New Jersey. She is currently spending her gap year at Midreshet Torat Chessed, located in Netanya at Bet Elazraki Children’s Home.

By Kailah Kaner

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