For the past five months I have had the honor and privilege of traveling the world. I've been to four countries in Southeast Asia, as well as India, and Israel. And with each new landing, I learned vast new information regarding food, language, family, work, social life, women, and religion.
Of all the profound lessons someone learns while traveling, one hint of consciousness surprised me the most- the farther away I was from home, the more I became cemented in my own identity. Growing up, it wasn't always clear to me where I stood on this spectrum. I was born in America, speaking fluent Hebrew, with Persian facial features, and a West Coast mindset. But seeing the world makes you appreciate yourself in ways you could never imagine.
I learned that what made me different in the U.S. really benefited me on my journey. Hebrew, for instance, was an incredibly helpful tool in the backpacking world. You wouldn't believe it, but the number of Israelis who travel to India after the army are jaw dropping. In certain areas, Hebrew is used as frequently as Hindi. Walking around, the storekeepers would call out to me with Hebrew phrases trying to sell their pashmina scarves or freshly baked cookies. Signs in Hebrew advertising yoga classes were also common, or even menus in Hebrew that include "Israeli Breakfast" as an option. I ended up spending Passover in a small village along the base of the Himalayan Mountains with 150 other Jews. We sat on the rooftop of a local home and sang our familiar Passover songs and laughing about all the amazing Indian food we would have to avoid for the next week.
For the first time in my life I really started to understand the powerful connection of the Jewish people. Anywhere we are in the world, we find ways to come together. And it's true what they say about traveling, it helps you find yourself. But it also helps you find your people.
I'd love to hear the stories of other community members who can relate to my experience. Please feel free to reach out and share!
Should you not already know Sivan or have her contact info, email Lia, the Director of Programming and Engagement, at email@example.com. Happy to connect you!