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Mi Casa, Su Casa

I could lie and say I was up early, ready and roarin' to head out to JLI this morning by 9am. But let's face it, I stayed up until 2am last night baking cookies with my best friend. So when I rolled over and saw that the clock was t-minus 15 minutes from 10am (when JLI starts), my first thought was "Oh lord, I have to get up from my coma?!" And when I walked into Chabad looking as exhausted as I felt, the spring in my step had sprung its way into sometime next week. Man, I was draggin. For someone who hates coffee, my eyes couldn't stop searching for that sweet salvation. Little did I know that my wake-up call would come soon enough. So I plumped down in my chair, mind on sleep and heart back home in my sheets. And I heard something that chased the fatigue towards tonight. "Who does Israel belong to?" The question resonated throughout the room and reverberated in my thoughts. Well, I thought, of course it belongs to us. The Jews. We. Me. It is my home, it is our solace. How could you even question it? But my claim of ownership was derived from the stories I heard and the necklace that dangled on my neck. I didn't have the facts. But those shortcomings were made up for in attending today's session. Those questions flew off of our tongues, challenging and questioning and refuting claims presented in the PowerPoint. But in the end we all realized that Israel truly DOES belong to us, and that is factually supported by tangible evidence as well as intangible ideologies. And not only does it belong to us, it is open for all to come and visit and fall in love with. The lesson grew and birthed new topics related to war and peace and conquest and sacrifice. In the end, Israel still came out victorious in its land borders. Israel belongs to the Jews. And in gaining this knowledge, I have become an ambassador of Jewish history and Jewish future. This is SO much better than coffee.

The grand finale of the lesson was meeting an amazing couple named Mr. Edmund and Mrs. Susan. They were awesome, and I have so much to tell, but then I won't have anything for next week! So stay tuned, because I hopefully have an announcement to make on their behalf. Can't wait for Sunday!

Call It Scandalous

Beep! Beep! Beep! *sound of an alarm clock being thrown across the room* I roll over in bed and practically fall onto the floor, the clock reading 9am. Need I repeat my Sunday routine? It remains the same, quite honestly. Except this time, when I stroll into the Chabad, some new faces catch my eye. All friendly, of course. Yearning to gain new knowledge of the very religion that joins us together every Sunday morning. I smile to myself in knowing that my generation harbors an interest in a healthy religion despite the romanticised atheistic ideologies of society. It gives me hope. Anyway, today's lesson was a continuation of Israel, otherwise known as "The Holy Land." How long could you possibly discuss a little sliver of land in the middle of nowhere? Well, it really is much more than that. And no amount of time in the world used to describe its uniqueness and peculiarity would do it justice. But hey, we can sure try, right? That being said, we discussed, at great length, the assets that Israel has been able to develop in order to survive and even prosper. Before I attended JLI classes, I already held Israel in the highest regard. With every lesson learned, however, the name leaves me even more breathless and awestruck with each utterance. I can't wait to finally witness its beauty firsthand. But for now, all I can do is thank Hashem for its existence, and count down the days until next Sunday. Today's lesson ended with a bit of a bang though. Within the last 20 minutes, Miss Sarah taught us about the parallels drawn between Judaism and love. I had never really thought about love and relationships as an aspect to be considered holy, but today left me wondering. It seems nearly scandalous that one can learn so much about life in a simple teaching of religion. Who knew?





JLI Teens Begins

Sunday morning schedule of normality; wake up about 9am, devour a huge bowl of seemingly healthy cereal, think up more excuses to put off the homework I have that's due in a day, and take a nap. This past Sunday morning schedule was a bit different though. I still woke up about 9am, devoured a huge bowl of cereal, put on pants, and drove my car to the local Chabad center in Abacoa. Why would I do such a thing, you may or may not ask? Because JLI Teens is back in session! Starting my second consecutive year in the program, I found myself increasingly excited to arrive to the day's lesson despite the amount of times I hit the snooze button. Last year was quite an experience considering I wasn't all that active in my religion. But last year's session changed my perspective of Judaism and life itself; I was smiling at the world more so than ever before. So, why wouldn't I be excited for the next one? Anyway, I walked into Chabad feeling a bit nervous, but the welcoming sight of my friends and Rabbi melted the nerves away immediately. It felt like I was home, and I was put at ease right away. When we started the lesson, time practically flew by. That two hour discussion lasted all of 5 minutes, it seemed like! But it captivated me. Questions concerning the importance of Israel and Judaism swirled in my mind and jumped off my tongue, constantly initiating new subtopics about the central theme of the lesson; the land of Israel. With JLI, it doesn't feel like I'm in a classroom learning about the ideology of a religion. It feels as though I'm learning how to live my life the proper way, and finally implementing the true meaning of the word 'Torah' into my daily life. I definitely cannot wait to see what the other kids think of the lesson plans, and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for Sunday to make another appearance. It's so exciting!



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