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Israel in 3D: Celebrating All That Israel Has to Offer

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Wish you could tell Israel’s story, the whole story? In the spirit of spreading knowledge about and appreciation for the beautiful, complex, ancient and yet oh-so-modern Jewish homeland, we are excited to highlight young leaders who are out telling Israel's story in full. As part of our Israel in 3D blog series, we will be sharing interviews with young leaders who are connecting with Israel through the lenses of business, service, advocacy, art and more—and then sharing their passion and understanding with others.

To download this blog post as a handout, click here.

Julia Ring is President of the Jewish Student Union at University of Maryland (UMD). At UMD, she is a senior majoring in English and secondary education and minoring in leadership studies. She is passionate about public education and its potential to change lives. Julia sits on the Jewish Leadership Council and is a university tour guide. 

Just for fun, what hashtag would you give yourself?

#letsdoit

We're curious, what will you be up to in 2020?

Ah! So close yet so far. Hopefully I'll be teaching in my super hip classroom where I get to talk about the coolest books and read amazing student writing.  

Now to the heart of the matter...When did you first "meet" Israel? What inspired you to learn more?  

In 2009 my mother re-married and as a combined family with five (!) children, we traveled to Israel for my mom and stepdad's "honeymoon." (Us kids were aged 11,12,13,14 and 15 at the time.)

At 15, this was my first time traveling to Israel and while I had an incredible experience, I wouldn't say it was what opened my eyes to Israel. Once I was older, and came to University of Maryland, I found myself immersed in an incredible Jewish community that loves and supports Israel. I was inspired, honestly, by my peers to think more critically about Israel and what it means to me as a person and as a Jew. Traveling to Israel on Birthright the summer after my junior year of college was a totally different experience. I knew more about the country than I had a few years before and I was hungrier to learn more, and for falafel of course.

How do you stay connected to Israel today?  

The community that first connected me to Israel is what keeps me connected today. The Jewish Student Union (JSU) celebrates Jewish culture and community. Part of that effort includes hosting an annual Israel Fest. Every year we take over our campus mall (quad), which is the biggest in the country (you may have read in my bio that I am a university tour guide), and turn it in to Israel. We feature artists straight from Israel, henna tattoos, falafel and hummus, educational booths and of course the famous camel rides. Yes, camel rides on campus!

But what is even more exciting for me than all the entertainment is seeing so many students, both Jewish and not, coming together to experience Israel in our own way. Seeing so many people learn about, enjoy and celebrate Israel inspires me to continue helping to introduce Israel to more and more people.

How do you share Israel with others? What motivates you to do this?  

Israel Fest draws hundreds of students and other campus community members (our university President was spotted on the camel last year!) to learn about and celebrate Israel. I am proud to be part of the team that makes this event possible.

How has your relationship with Israel changed over time?  

Over time, I have gained more knowledge and have had more exposure to Israel. I have taken the time to consider why I need to care about Israel and why Israel is important to me as a Jewish young adult.

If you could tell the world one thing about Israel (or an aspect of Israel) what would it be?  

The hummus is really as good as they say.

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.