Our final trip of the summer season leaves today! Most of our 5,000 Israel Outdoors participants are back from their trips. The question on everyone’s mind is “what do we do now?” Israel Outdoors alumna Tara Witt shares the following 5 suggestions:
Israel is a whirlwind! The ten days will fly by and you won’t want to miss a moment. By the time you even realize you’re tired, you’ll be on a flight home. You may sleep some on that flight, but the final shock of leaving your friends will take the last bit of energy you have. Everyone at home will ask how your trip was and approximately five rambling, bumbling, and “you had to be there” stories later you realize that you can’t do it justice in this daze. So, go to sleep.
2. Start Talking
After you wake up don’t let a moment go by before you begin facebooking, texting, or tweeting all of your new friends. There is an element of your experience in Israel that only they will understand. Whether they were your best friend on the trip or not, you are all bonded now and who says making friends after your trip has to end? Everyone will have this amazing post-trip enthusiasm and basking in it will fill you up with the joy and passion you need in order to keep Israel in your heart. Plus, it will help get you through the next week or two of work because no progress report or senior leadership presentation is as interesting as those same pictures of the camels you’ve seen 1,000 times already.
3. Ask Questions
Nobody leaves Israel emotionally unscathed – especially if it was your first trip. Whether you cried at the Western Wall or just enjoyed a friendly debate on the value of keeping kosher, your experience was unique and it deserves further thought. Begin with the questions that loomed over you throughout group discussions on the trip. Ask yourself everyday where Judaism fits into your life? Your relationships? How do politics affect Israel and how do you feel about it? Who is King Herod again? Whatever dimension of this trip struck you as important – continue questioning it.
4. Start Learning
Questions will drive you crazy unless you develop the attitude that these are questions worthy of answers. And how do you find answers? Learn! Research. Join a synagogue or at least go one Friday to see what you think. Take a grandparent out to lunch and listen to their stories. Read. You don’t have to read the Torah to be engaged in spiritual (or any other type of) exploration – read anything. The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs is great for beginners. You can do this at your own pace for a little time or for a lifetime – the important thing is that you give your experience in Israel some time.
5. Unpack (& do your laundry)
I realize this isn’t as spiritually motivating as the other suggestions, but it is important. Now, as much as I encourage you to keep Israel present in your heart and mind, I don’t encourage you to continue wearing the shorts you climbed Masada in (with fresh dirt on them and all). Let Israel change you, but don’t stop living in the process. Be present in your day to day life as it was before you left and your communication, questions, and spiritual learning will seep into your life organically. This will foster the environment for you to bring your experience in Israel to life in your personal reality, and this is the most important part. After you unpack, do your laundry. It’s like a Mikveh for your clothes (you’ll understand when you get back).
Do you have suggestions for when your trip ends? Leave a comment below or send us an e-mail at [email protected].