KAHAL REFLECTIONS

Take a look at some of the incredible opportunities that students have been able to experience with the help of KAHAL! Scroll down and click a picture to read an amazing reflection from a KAHAL alum.

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Talia C.

ROME FOOD TOUR

``The food tour in the Jewish ghetto this past week was incredible! Not only was our guide knowledgeable about the area and taught us the history of the ghetto, but also took us to great spots to try the local food. She was also interested in learning from us which I thought was cool. I met other Jewish students studying in Rome; one was even from my hometown! It was a great way to break up the week, eat with new and old friends all while exploring and learning about the city of Rome. I would highly recommend this tour the next time someone is in Rome to get a literal 'taste' of the Roman history.``

ROME FOOD TOUR

ZACHARY F.

PURIM TRIP TO TEL AVIV

``After going to Purim in Tel Aviv I can only look back on the experience as a wonderful opportunity that I never expected to be offered. While I have always loved the holiday of Purim and celebrated annually I always imagined what it would be like to observe in an area where the whole community actively participated. This trip to Tel Aviv was that exact chance and far better than I ever imagined. It has made me want to go back for the same experience and can't imagine another way of celebrating Purim in the future.``

PURIM TRIP TO TEL AVIV

ELI P.

SEDER IN ST. ANDREWS

``I had an amazing experience hosting a Seder for just over 30 people at St. Andrews in Scotland. Though I have led a few Seders in my life, this was one of the more challenging. I learned how much I had valued having other co-leaders. Often in the Seder there were moments where I forgot an explanation, had to figure out what we would do next, or wanted to find a song to sing, etc. In a town and at a university where there are not many Jewish students, it was amazing to have other Jewish students there to help, providing snippets of information I had not known, sharing customs that I had not known of, and helping to lead a part of the Seder. I learned that a Seder is truly led by all its participants.

From the non-Jewish participants I learned that there is also an idea that events and traditions of religions that are not one’s own are (wrongly) believed to be inaccessible to those not of that religion. I had one non-Jewish friend say he was worried he would do something wrong during the Seder. It was so important that the non-Jewish students enjoyed the Seder, not simply for exposure to Jewish culture, but to learn that other religions and traditions are accessible and that meaning can be drawn from them.

Finally, I was reminded of the value of the Jewish community from the many friends who shared how happy they (and their parents) were that they participated in a Seder even when far from home.``

SEDER IN ST. ANDREWS

ZOE B.

A TRIP TO BUDAPEST

``A few friends and I recently had the opportunity to visit Budapest, Hungary. Our trip included a tour of the Dohany Synagogue, the Hungarian Jewish Museum, and the Jewish Quarter. We also saw multiple Holocaust memorials, including the shoes along the Danube River. We are currently studying in Jerusalem, Israel and thought it would be interesting to see how Judaism is presented in a different country. Despite coming from a country in which we are used to being surrounded by Judaism, it felt so amazing to see Hebrew words on the signs for restaurants and learn more about our ancestry at the Hungarian Jewish Museum. I find it important to constantly be reminded of our history and our stories. Those of us who are Jewish felt an overwhelming sense of pride for our religion and awe at the beauty of such an elaborate synagogue. The non-Jewish student was equally as impressed and happy to learn about our religion. It amazes me that no matter what country you are in, Judaism is essentially the same. This concept has made me feel a longing to explore Judaism in other countries, because I know that no matter where I travel to, I can mostly likely find a place and people that I can connect with.``

A TRIP TO BUDAPEST

DILLON K.

SHABBAT IN PARIS

``Earlier this year, my brother, my friend Sam, and I spent the weekend in Paris. While we certainly did all of the touristy stuff, one of the highlights of the trip was being invited to a Shabbat dinner with a local family. This was my first shabbat dinner while abroad. It was amazing how despite speaking different languages and coming from different backgrounds, we felt right at home with them. We were treated to a delicious home cooked meal and intense debates about the differences in Jewish culture in France compared to the U.S. We also bonded over being PSG soccer fans! KAHAL helped us to experience Jewish Paris in a way no tour could possibly have done, and made me feel more connected to the global Jewish community.``

SHABBAT IN PARIS

AVIYA Z.

PURIM IN MELBOURNE

``I spent Purim in Melbourne with the Jewish community on campus. For Megillah reading we went to a speakeasy event hosted by Chabad Campus of Melbourne and celebrated at an event hosted by AUJS VIC. Both events were a great way to meet other Jews in the community and on campus and even made friends that invited us for Shabbat! Great experience and very fun time.``

PURIM IN MELBOURNE

HARLEE M.

SPRING BREAK IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

``For spring break, my two friends and I decided to head to the South of France. We wanted to really feel like we were on vacation, surrounded by beautiful water views and beaches, and that's exactly what the South of France offered! We traveled to 6 different cities within France, and even made it to Monaco! We decided to stay in Marseille for Shabbat, since it's supposedly the second largest Jewish community in France. When we first arrived on our second day of vacation in Marseille, from a long day in Nimes, we were so thankful to have found a Kosher restaurant. We were even more thankful that we chose an airbnb that was a ten minute walk from Chabad of Marseille. KAHAL introduced us to the Chabad there, where we had all of our Shabbat meals. The Chabad couple was so friendly, and we were actually able to speak with them since they spoke English! Their four daughters were adorable, and the food was delicious! There were only a few visitors on Shabbat, and so we were fortunate to have meaningful conversations with the Chabad couple. We made fun of the differences in our native languages, and got to learn about our different Jewish practices. I feel lucky to have KAHAL's support; KAHAL has given me the opportunity to interact with Jews whom I never dreamed I'd have the opportunity of meeting! I highly recommend Chabad of Marseille, and the South of France in general! :)``

SPRING BREAK IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

TALIA S.

SHABBAT AND JEWISH LEARNING IN AMSTERDAM, VERONA, AND VENICE

``Over Passover break, my boyfriend and I traveled to Amsterdam, Verona, and Venice and in each place we received a different Jewish experience. We continued our year long tradition of celebrating Shabbat together in Israel while in Amsterdam, cooking a delicious Shabbat meal in our AirBnB and saying the prayers over the candles, Challah and wine. I chose to study abroad in Israel to become more connected to my Jewish identity and celebrate Shabbat, something I did not do growing up. Being able to celebrate Shabbat in Amsterdam showed me that I can take these new traditions anywhere with me in the world. Traveling in Italy, I took the opportunity to learn more about the history of the Jewish people during the holocaust in various parts of Italy as my grandmother was an Italian holocaust survivor. To feel more connected to her experience, I visited the Jewish Ghetto and its associated museum in Venice. This was a very powerful and moving experience for me as I know I will continue to remember her stories and share them with the people around me. Big thanks to KAHAL for helping me to continue Shabbat traditions and learn more about the struggle of the Jewish people, specifically in Italy.``

SHABBAT AND JEWISH LEARNING IN AMSTERDAM, VERONA, AND VENICE

DENI B.

AMSTERDAM AND THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE

``This past weekend, I travelled to Amsterdam for the first time to explore the unique culture and experience the rich Jewish history weaved into the city’s past and present. One of the most important factors in picking a weekend to visit was whether or not there were tickets available to visit the Anne Frank House. Luckily, we booked far enough in advance to get reservations, and I’m so grateful that we did. The tour was one of the first things that we did in the city, and it entirely changed my perspective on the rest of our stay there. In the museum, there was a map of the city used by Nazis to locate the Jewish citizens. Each dot on the map represented 10 people, providing a clear understanding of the density of the Jewish population. One of the most remarkable things was, on the map covered with dots, the 8 Jews of the Frank family and friends hiding in the secret annex wouldn’t even merit a dot on their own. We were so wrapped up in the house that we didn’t take a single picture there, and walked back the next day to take a picture outside.``

AMSTERDAM AND THE ANNE FRANK HOUSE

ELANA K.

WEEKEND TRIP TO VIENNA

``It was amazing to be able to visit Vienna, the hometown of my grandfather (Opa) this past weekend. My Opa was born and raised in Vienna but fled during World War II, and since he passed away before I was born it was amazing to be able to connect to him, my history, my relatives, and the general Jewish history of that amazing city with two close friends. I was even able to meet my 2nd cousin Oskar and his kids for the first time! While there, my friends and I visited the Jewish museum, joined a great and energetic Friday night run by Jewish students in Vienna, and went to Saturday morning services at the main Shul (and while there partook in the most delicious and glorious Kiddush I could ever have imagined). On less Jewish notes, we also walked and public transported all around the city, visited the Belvedere, climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and consumed many many delicious coffees, cakes, pancakes, and yes, some Kosher schnitzel. All in all an amazing, educational, and fun trip. I hope to make it back to Vienna someday to visit my relatives and get to know the city better!``

WEEKEND TRIP TO VIENNA

TYLER S.

JEWISH LIFE IN TOKYO

``I am studying abroad in Hong Kong this semester and visited Japan during my school break, where I attended Shabbat dinner at Chabad in Tokyo. I loved exploring Jewish life and culture in Tokyo with my friends. I am very grateful for KAHAL’s help in making this vision a reality. Shabbat at Chabad in Tokyo was an amazing experience, with a delicious home-cooked meal. I felt very connected with the Jewish community and met some incredible people from around the world. I met Jews living in and visiting Tokyo from the United States, Europe, Australia, and Israel. I had engaging and memorable conversations with everyone during dinner. Studying abroad in Hong Kong for the semester, it was awesome to spend time with a local Jewish community. It was amazing and reassuring to see and be part of a vibrant and diverse Jewish community in Japan. Participating in Jewish life in Tokyo was quite different than Jewish life back home in the United States. I even met an Israeli Jew who married a Japanese woman and permanently lives in Japan. I learned a lot about how he keeps his Jewish identity alive in Japan and discussed issues that Jews face in Asia. He mentioned that he traveled around Asia for business and I was able to connect my Jewish experience in Shanghai to my experience in Tokyo. I never knew there were Jews living in Tokyo, Japan and this helped me see Judaism from another perspective. However, at the same time, there were noticeable and inspiring similarities between Jewish life in Tokyo and Jewish life in my hometown. This fact made me feel closer to home than I could have ever imagined while physically being on the other side of the world. The experience was very meaningful to my identity. I look forward to sharing my experience in Tokyo with friends and family members when I return to the United States. I am very fortunate that KAHAL generously facilitated this memorable experience.``

JEWISH LIFE IN TOKYO

ELANA R.

WEEKEND IN MADRID AND TOLEDO

``I had a truly amazing experience going to Madrid for Shabbat! I've been attending the local progressive community's services while in Sevilla, but I hadn't been to a real synagogue in Europe until we went to Madrid. The services at the synagogue there were Sephardi and Orthodox, which is different from the Ashkenazi Conservative Judaism that I'm used to, but it was really amazing to realize how much of the service I could follow along. The rabbi's Dvar Torah was in Spanish, but my friend and I could understand it all, and it was so special to feel like part of the community even though we were from thousands of miles away.

Later that weekend, we went to Toledo and got to see two medieval synagogues. I'd learned about the Jewish community of Toledo before, but it was so inspiring to see the synagogues in person and to see the museum of Sephardi Jewish history. My favorite part was the Ezrat Nashim of the synagogue, which was also a museum of daily life, and seeing the different artifacts that used to belong to the community.``

WEEKEND IN MADRID AND TOLEDO