Upon arriving to the Hillel at UVa Israel Retreat of 2015, the first thing I noticed was how separate we were from the rest of the UVa community. Hosting the event at the rural Triple C camp provided a literal breath of fresh air from the busy hustle and bustle of the UVa grounds. Immediately, I felt as though I had been transported to a new, yet comfortable place. Familiar and strange faces accompanied me. We were gearing up to engage in a conversation about one of the most heated topics of not only the world today, but our individual identities as well. The fresh air and new space helped mellow the tone and introduce a comfortable and safe space
The retreat also taught us how to engage in productive conversations back on grounds. The leaders gave us the tools to be respectful yet impactful when discussing Israel with others on Grounds. We considered how can we portray our “hug and wrestle” stories to other UVa students, faculty and administrators? How can we tell people that we love something, yet struggle with it as well? How can we tell them that the reason we struggle with something is because we love it? And, how can we tell people that, although something may be flawed, it still deserves to BE? This is what the Hillel Israel Retreat of 2015 taught me to do, or at least helped me figure out the steps of how to do it.
Back on grounds I now wonder, how will we exhibit what we learned at the retreat? We will create constructive dialogue and move carefully and productively. The best way to continue to learn about Israel is to keep on telling our “hug and wrestle” stories.
WaJew Class of 2017