Learning outside of class: Jerusalem teaches student to be grateful

Learning outside of class: Jerusalem teaches student to be grateful

TEL AVIV — My classmates and I just took a day trip to Jerusalem, and all I could think about was finding my favorite quote in the city, printed in a hallway outside of the Western Wall, and scribbling it down so I could remember it.
Here it is: “The Jerusalem stone, so resilient and supple, bows to the transient follies of humankind, bearing testimony like a hundred witnesses and yet, remains silent.”
This quote, by Chaim Be’er, truly speaks to me; I interpret to mean Jersusalem remains solid and unbending; while turmoil never seems to leave its walls and the conflict brings the city pain, it will never fall.
When I go to a place I have been before — Jerusalem, for example — I ask my friends, “How lucky am I that this is the second time I’m seeing the Kotel, or seeing the Old City?” Even having been here twice, the feeling never ceases.
That feeling stuck with me during this latest trip to Jerusalem. I gained a sense of what makes Tel Aviv and Jerusalem such polar opposites. We walked throughout the Nachlaot, which our tour guide called “a microcosm of Israeli society,” a neighborhood of students, young adults and Orthodox Jews all living together. I loved walking through the winding streets and seeing the ancient houses and shops, getting a sense of what it’s like to be a Jew in Jerusalem. It’s certainly different from being a Jew in Tel Aviv.
Living in Israel as a student, I am grateful every day for this eye-opening experience. That’s my current feeling, what I have thought every day the past few weeks: I am grateful.
I went to Jordan this past weekend and saw mind-blowing Petra and ate in a Jordanian restaurant. It was a worthwhile experience, but when my friends and I crossed the border back into Israel, we were legitimately relieved to be home — and grateful.
This past month, I became accustomed to living in modern, artsy, bohemian Tel Aviv, while traveling to Jerusalem, Eilat, and Petra. Finishing my intensive Hebrew course — Ulpan — I am relieved and happy to be taking regular university courses. I’m currently enrolled in Israeli Drama, 100 Years of History in Tel Aviv, Creative Writing, Zionism and the State of Israel and 20th-Century Israeli Art.
Ulpan is finally over, so Tel Aviv University has a completely different feel. Walking throughout campus, students of all ages, backgrounds and origins are walking with me, attending the same classes. Sitting in my Israeli drama class, there are students from Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. I wonder what brings them to Tel Aviv for their studies. Some have Israeli boyfriends or girlfriends, some have family here and some just know Tel Aviv University is a renowned school. I am positive they are just as grateful as me.