I grew up in an interesting Jewish environment in that my mother is an American Ashkenazi and my father is a Moroccan Israeli. Growing up, we would celebrate holidays with my mom’s family in a more secular fashion. However, my experiences visiting my father’s family in Israel allowed me to gain a more authentic Israeli and religious cultural experience.

I attended Hebrew school for years, but after my Bat Mitzvah, I stopped going. After awhile, I became really disinterested and disconnected.

After transferring to Berkeley in my junior year, however, I joined Maimonides mainly because I was looking for a way to make friends and be with other Jewish students. It turned out that I loved the program! Through the weekly Maimonides sessions, I started exploring Judaism and it made me yearn to become more in touch with my Jewish heritage. Last year, I joined the Israel Action Committee at Berkeley, which furthered my interest and passion in Israel and Judaism.

I had heard many times growing up that my great-grandfather on my mother’s side was from a prominent religious family but it never really interested me much. My great-grandfather, Isaiah Halevi Horowitz, was the Chief Rabbi in Tsfat, Israel and was 11 generations from Rabbi Isaiah ben Avraham Ha-Levi Horowitz, the Shiloh Ha-Kodesh. This great rabbi
was born in Prague in the 16th century and his teaching greatly influenced the development of the Chassidic movement. I never realized all of this, but after connecting with MEOR, I understood the significance of this heritage for the first time.

I have been coming to Israel every summer for the last five years—but the MEOR experience really did it for me. Before, I had experienced living and traveling in Israel, but that was it.

I didn’t really have a plan for what I wanted to do after college. Now after being part of MEOR, I know that I want to come back here and study for a year, as well as do some community service in Israel. I really love it here—my soul is here.

This has been the most amazing experience. I called my mom from Israel just to tell her how much I love it and how inspired I am. It’s a beautiful thing—I’m so happy!

Class of 2012, Media Studies Major