Onward Israel Blog: Week 8

Date: 08-08-2022 | Category: Blog,For Students | Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Photo, Top, Cincinnati Onward Interns visiting Netiv HaAsara

Photo, Bottom R-L Brian Jaffee, Danielle Minson, and Noga Maliniak meet with the Cincinnati cohort for dinner

I’m writing my final blog post and goodbye from the comfort of my couch in Cincinnati. After a long 24+ hours of travel, I made it home.

This past week has been bittersweet as we had many fun “lasts”—full of goodbyes and final hurrahs. 

On our last full day in Israel, a group of us decided to take a day trip to Jerusalem. We wanted to seize the opportunity to explore Jerusalem on that rare day when we didn’t have work AND public transportation was running (aka a day other than Shabbat). We went on a hike to Sataf, which was extra special for me because it was the same hike I went on during Birthright on my very first morning in Israel. It was such a full circle moment to spend my final day the same way I spent my first one.

The hike included a “natural spring” that ended up being kind of like a giant well. We were apprehensive at first about going in, but the combination of the heat and a group of Israeli teens doing backflips off the wall and into the water wore me down. I decided I was gonna do it! I convinced Sam and after that, we were all in. The added bit of spontaneity encapsulated my overall summer experience; I always tried to be open minded and up for any adventure.

The following day would mark the beginning of our return home. Many of us had late night flights, so we had over half the day free. The day was chill and slow paced and that mentality is another piece of Israel I want to bring home with me. The whole country just isn’t in a rush. Avital and I took our time wandering the shuk, and then paid Halper’s Used Bookstore one last visit. Reflecting on my time here, the bookstore is another symbolic place for me, as it is where my friend took me on my first free day, post-Birthright. It was the start of my more authentic Israeli experience, so finishing my trip with one last visit felt right. 

Cincinnati Onward Interns enjoying one of their last meals together in Tel Aviv with Noga Maliniak, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Israel Representative.

We could’ve spent all day there flipping through books, but we had a reservation to make. Avital, Sam, and I decided to treat ourselves to a fancy sushi last meal at TYO in Neve Tzedek. It was the perfect way to use up our final 10bis food stipend. We ended up spending three hours at the restaurant. We took our time and just enjoyed the food and each other’s company.

It’s really hard to articulate how amazing this summer has been. I became more independent, made so many friends, and explored a new country. I already miss it so much. The beauty of the program is that I can actually see my new Cincinnati friends. Unlike with camp, where my friends were spread across the country, we are all within a 30-minute drive from each other. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to go on Onward. Thank you to everyone who made it possible—the Cincinnati and Israel program organizers, my parents, and the other participants—you are what made this experience so special!

<3 Eva Fischer