The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

My Summer in Tel Aviv

photos courtesy of jessica monahan

My summer apartment had a stunning view of the Mediterranean. So naturally, I spent most of this summer on the beach. I knew each night spent in Tel Aviv, I was guaranteed a seat in the sand. My growth was measured in sunsets. I started the summer alone, and as time progressed I was surrounded by people that I grew extremely close to– making memories I would never forget. 


When I was younger, Israel was a place I never thought I would experience. For most Jewish people, it becomes an expectation that you will visit the Holy Land at some point in your life. However, coming from a divorced, mixed-religion family, it was never really talked about. Seeing as my father is Jewish and my mother never converted, I am technically not even considered Jewish in the eyes of the religion. Which led me to believe I was not  “Jewish enough” to go to Israel. 


All of these beliefs subsided this past spring when I was presented with the opportunity to complete an internship through a program called Onward. This is a program where you spend two months in Tel Aviv, Israel while doing an internship in your area of study.


After hearing about this program in class, I was intrigued but doubted that I would actually go through with it. In a twist of fate, I landed interviews, accepted an internship and booked my tickets to Tel Aviv. 


Prior to my two-month stay in Tel Aviv, I decided to go on Birthright. For Jewish young adults ages 18-26, Birthwright is an experience that sets out to develop connections to Israel, help establish a deeper Jewish identity and provide a rich educational experience. My trip was through Taglit Birthright, and it was a 10-day all-expenses-paid trip.  


I was sure they would see right through me and I would not be accepted onto the trip. These fears circled my mind and I wondered if I would be the odd one out, or not “Jewish enough” to be there. To my surprise, there were so many others who came from mixed religious backgrounds, who had not had a Bat Mitzvah and who had the same apprehensions I had prior to leaving. 


Everyone who was a part of the trip was very open to hearing everyone’s experiences and connections to Judaism without judgment. Something I remember vividly is on our last Shabbat of Birthright, every person shared what Shabbat meant to them. Having never experienced Shabbat in my life prior to this trip, I was not quite sure what I was going to say. 


Lucky for me, I was one of the last people to share, so I had a lot of time to think about my answer. After thinking back on the nine days prior, and listening to all of the answers from my peers, I came to the conclusion that Shabbat does not necessarily have to be a religious experience. Shabbat to me is about community, showing up for one another and making sure those around you know that you love and care for them.


After the 10-day Birthright trip, we stayed in Tel Aviv ready to start the summer. Luckily the majority of people on my Birthright trip were staying for Onward, so I had some familiar faces around me. 


I grew up in an area with a small Jewish community, so when I left for Israel I did not know anyone else who was going. This quickly became a non-issue, as I made friends that will last for years to come. 


I had the incredible privilege of working for a small, sustainable fashion company in Tel Aviv called, Dressed by Danielle, which is an experience I will never forget. The fashion industry in Israel is different from the States as modesty is more commonplace in Israel.. Dressed by Danielle’s main clientele is young mothers, a target audience that I have never worked with before. So getting to understand a different demographic was an experience I am extremely grateful. 


Working internationally with social media is also something that was a bit of a learning curve at first. The algorithms for Meta are the same as the US but what took some getting used to was the time zone. Finding the perfect time to post to cater to both Israeli and US followers was crucial in order to drive engagement. Ultimately, I hope to work abroad post-grad so this is an important skill that I will need to utilize in the future.


Working with such a tight-knit group of women who only uplifted each other was such a beautiful experience. Living in a foreign country can be an extremely isolating experience, and coupled with my internship it was no easy feat, but having supportive coworkers made it all possible. 


Jewish culture is rooted in community, which is initially what led me to take this trip, so my fears of not fitting in quickly subsided. Getting to immerse myself in Israeli culture along with so many amazing people made this experience so special. Israel is unlike any other place that I have traveled to because you know that everyone surrounding you has something in common. There is a sense of unity throughout the whole country. 


There was something really beautiful about being immersed in this culture as an adult after not experiencing it as much as a child. My whole life I have been curious about this part of my heritage and my family, and because I did not get to explore it at a young age I just saw it as a missed opportunity. Israel allowed me to be open to the culture and community in ways I would never have experienced otherwise.


On the last Friday of the summer, all of my friends and I cooked a final Shabbat dinner to commemorate the two months we spent together. We ended the summer the same way we started it, on the beach watching the sunset. We created a community in our little apartment building in front of Jerusalem Beach. We laughed, we cried, and we danced as our time in Tel Aviv came to an end. Israel will always have a special place in my heart, although it was not always easy. My two months were filled with friendship, learning, community and ultimately so much love. It is the experiences that you never intended to have that are always the most fulfilling. 

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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine. 

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