Denny Tammam is studying in Midreshet Moriah in the Beit HaKerem neighborhood of Jerusalem. She is from West Orange, NJ, and went to Ma’ayanot for high school. Her family davens at Congregation Ahavat Achim B’nei Jacob and David (AABJ&D).
Her plans for next year? Queens College.
Why did you choose to learn at Midreshet Moriah?
I chose to spend my gap year here at Midreshet Moriah because they offer a variety of amazing classes and a schedule that I can really personalize to fit my needs.
What kind of goals do you have for your year?
Going into my year, I really wanted to find out who I am as a person, to connect to myself better. I also wanted to understand and connect more to parts of Judaism which I’ve never explored before.
What has been one of the biggest highlights of your year so far?
A few weeks ago, we had an optional Kumsitz at the Kotel, which many of the students chose to attend. We sang songs overlooking the kotel and davened there. It was such a fun and inspiring night.
What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced being in Israel for a year is the traveling, all of the public transportation. I can’t just get in a car and drive anywhere—I always have to look up bus schedules and plan my whole day around traveling.
How has being here been different from your expectations? Did you feel prepared for your experience or did you have culture shock, and how so?
I felt pretty prepared before coming to Israel for this year, but one of the main adjustments has been doing things for myself. I have to go shopping and restock when I run out of things and buy food and snacks to feed myself. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you experience it firsthand.
Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?
One of my favorite places that I’ve been to for Shabbat was Neve Daniel. I recently went to one of my teachers there and it was just beautiful. She took us on a tour of the yishuv and we went to a high point where you could see almost all of Yerushalayim and the Gush. She pointed out historical places and importance of the Gush itself.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I am so looking forward to going away for Shabbat to many different people and getting exposed to all types of communities
Any special plans for your first Chanukah in Israel?
Midreshet Moriah is having a Tzfat Shabbaton for Shabbos Chanukah. I hope it’ll be fun!
By Tzvi Silver/JLNJ Israel