Jaclyn Wildes is studying at Midreshet AMIT in Gilo, Jerusalem. She grew up in Englewood, attended Moriah for elementary school, and Ramaz for high school. She’s attended Camp Seneca, Camp Szarvas and Camp Sulam in the summers.
Her next stop? Baruch College.
Why did you choose to study at Midreshet AMIT?
There are many reasons as to why I chose to learn at AMIT. AMIT gives an amazing balance of learning Torah, learning to do chesed, and learning to love the Land of Israel. I personally love learning, and the classes stood out to me, and the reputation of the teacher-student bond was extremely intriguing.
Another reason why I chose AMIT was because of the partnership with Beit HaYeled. Two summers ago I volunteered on Kol Hane’arim, a program in which teens go to different at-risk children’s homes and give them a new perspective on life. The Israeli children there were not the only ones who experienced a life-changing summer—my life, as well as those of everyone who is involved with Kol Hane’arim, were changed forever. Amongst many things, I learned what the power of just being present has. My Mishpachton, family group, really left me in awe when the summer ended, and being able to make a strong bond with more children with all different types of needs is truly a blessing.
Every Wednesday we have the mornings off from learning and we have out-of-school chesed. I will be doing my additional chesed opportunity at Shalva, and I couldn’t be more excited.
We learn to love the Land of Israel by our abundant amount of tiyulim, trips, and the different speakers who come to AMIT to share with us all of the unique aspects of Israel.
What kind of goals do you have for the year?
I’ve been looking forward to this year my whole life. I have many goals for this year, but mainly I think it’s an amazing opportunity to become independent, self-confident, and to be able to self-reflect and set my goals for this year and start the rest of my life.
What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?
So far, this year has been so exciting in social and religious ways.
I think that the most inspiring moment for me was when we went on a tiyul at 3 o’clock in the morning to the Old City. Although at first I was dreading this because I wanted my sleep, when we arrived at the Kotel for vatikin at six o’clock it was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. The sun was slowly rising and there were hundreds of people gathered there praying Selichot.
The most exciting moment so far was when our El-Al flight landed in Israel and I knew I was about to embark on an amazing journey of my life.
What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?
The biggest struggle is not being at home and not being with my family all the time. We are a very family-oriented family, even with everyone out of the house. We have weekly family dinners, Shabbatot together, and I’ve always had the ability to stop by at any of my siblings, grandparents, or cousins’ houses whenever I wanted because we live so close to one another. But thankfully, even being so far away I speak to everyone in my family at least twice a week, and keeping connected hasn’t been too difficult.
How has your year been different from your expectations?
Personally, I felt extremely prepared for this program and for the adjustment in general. Of course, at times it gets hard because I’m in a different country with new people, but overall, the “culture shock” is exactly how I expected it to be.
Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?
We have not had that many shabbatonim yet, but I really enjoyed our first Shabbat, when we went to a hostel outside of Jerusalem. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other and begin to bond as a group.
Who is a teacher at AMIT whom you connect to especially well?
All of the teachers are super-nice, relatable, and if I ever needed to speak to a teacher about a trouble I am having, I would not be embarrassed to approach to any of them.
Which is one of your favorite classes at AMIT?
One of my favorite classes is SHUTIM with Rav Rafi. Each class, we discuss a different topic of she’elot u’teshuvot, questions and answers, from the modern day and discuss the different opinions of various rabbis. It’s always very relevant to what we’re going through; for example, the class before Sukkot, we discussed the debate of keeping one or two days of chag in Israel.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I’m excited to just be in Israel for the year and have my year in seminary, with amazing learning and doing tons of meaningful chesed—an experience I have been looking forward to as long as I can remember!
By JLNJ Staff