Before Nativ, I had never truly connected to the chaggim; they came and went year after year without much thought. To be honest, I did not think this year would be much different, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. As it was my first time celebrating away from my family and synagogue community, the holiday season began with some hesitations. Although there were moments when I didn’t know a tune or I lost my place in my machzur, the holidays were filled with so much meaning. Celebrating the chaggim in Israel is a completely unique experience. It felt as if these three weeks, packed with chag after chag, gave me a taste for the Jewish, Israeli community. I was exposed to new opportunities such as sharing a meal with an Israeli family, buying my own arbat haminim in the shuk, and shul-hopping in order to hit as many hakafot on Simchat Torah as possible (the Nativ record is 25!).
A specific moment that stood out to me was participating in a Nativ Yom Kippur tradition in which every Erev Yom Kippur Nativers hold a tisch in the middle of the deserted intersection outside Beit Nativ. We replaced the usual loud honks and cars with songs and people. What impacted me the most, more than the dozens of pedestrians that stopped and joined us (both in song or merely to watch), was the fact that Nativ does this every year. Every year without fail, a completely new group of young adults come together in song to create such a meaningful and spiritual moment. Each year, Nativers take action and lead their own tisch, without assistance from the staff. I had the opportunity to meet a family that came to join our tisch. They told me that they come every year and love the ruach that the Nativers bring. This moment hit me because it shows that the ruach held within Nativers, Conservative Judaism, and Judaism all together is universal. It doesn’t matter if it was my Nativ, the one before me, or the one in five years; our Judaism is something that we can all share.
This past Yom Kippur was the first time that I have celebrated the holiday and not thought about food the whole time. I replaced my feelings of hunger with reflections on what it means to be a part of a community and a greater nation. I am a part of the Nativ 39 community, and I am also a part of the greater Jewish nation. I can start singing Hebrew songs with my friends on the street and be joined by 150+ strangers who know the same words to the song that I am singing. Experiences like these only happen in Israel, and they are encouraged and accessible through Nativ.