This story comes to us from Hillel International, which offers college students numerous opportunities to explore and celebrate their Jewish identities by engaging them in Jewish life on their own terms.
Eden Holmes is a sophomore at Purdue University. She sings in the university choir, and is currently the religious chair of Purdue’s Hillel Board and the Friday night service leader. Eden grew up in Tennessee, south of Nashville, and traveled to Israel for the first time on her Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel trip.
This post first appeared on the Hillel blog.
Eden Holmes shared the following at her Shehechiyanu, the ceremony that Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel trips hold upon being in Jerusalem for the first time.
From the first days that I could stand and lisp along with the congregation, every holiday and special occasion, I have chanted a central pledge of our faith, "Next year in Jerusalem." As I grew older, that unifying goal became a dream for me -- something beautiful and pure and far away, something distant and fanciful and almost unreal. It was a dream like winning the lottery, catching a star or falling in love.
With such an ideal, I often found myself wondering if I deserved it, if I was good enough. Lord knows, I'm far from perfect. And in my dream, Jerusalem seemed to be.
But now, I am here.
Often, the realization of our dreams can seem like a rough awakening. The first prize trophy that has a chip in it, the celebrity you idolize that is rude to you, or the city you prayed about that has traffic lights, graffiti, liquor stores and pigeons.
However, here today, all of those human moments are making the reality of Jerusalem even more meaningful for me. It's not shining and perfect. It is human and gritty and honest. It is not only a place for angels and perfect Jews. It is a place for everyone to come together. The beautiful dream has come to life and its meaning lies in the unification of the history and normality into something true and holy.
I never knew that I would get here or that the reality would improve upon my dream. But it has. I am here as an imperfect person able to worship and welcome Shabbat in the same imperfect place as millions of imperfect souls before. And that makes it feel perfect.
Now I can fulfill my central pledge and say "This year in Jerusalem."
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.