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Sunday, January 5, 2014

The difference between a tourist and a witness.


I now know the difference between being a tourist and being a witness.

As I stood on a promenade this morning overlooking the majestic city of Jerusalem, I, Aaron Matthew Bloom, received my Hebrew name. In a circle surrounded by some of my newest friends, Ally and Shakked recited blessings and poems in honor of the occasion.

One's Hebrew name represents the keystone of their Jewish identity. It embodies a person's individual character and personality. During my birthright trip, I was presented with an opportunity to select and receive an official Hebrew name. Pretty epic.

Today I chose the name Shalom Yaron. Shalom meaning "peace," and Yaron meaning "he will sing."

We all face struggles whether through school, family, or love. I feel as though I've reached a point in my life where my mind is at peace. I'm at peace with the challenges and hardships I've faced in the past few years, and I want to use the lessons I've learned to help others and better myself.

As looked out over the city and at my peers, I felt in my mind and heart that I was at the right place. I belonged.


In other incredibly exciting news; some cool people had a Bar Mitzvah last night. Several hundred of us pegged them with candy and raised them high in chairs as we celebrated the end of Shabbat. I'm lucky to have met some of these wonderful people and be a witness to this important event in their life. Mazel Tov!!!
 The Old City of Jerusalem's streets wind in every direction and are dotted with reminders of its thousand-year history. Bus 1120 adventured through its streets most of the afternoon; hopping over rooftops, eating falafel, and placing notes in the Western Wall / the Kotel, Judaism's most sacred site.

I felt warm and welcomed as I sat at the base of the wall. I closed my eyes and focused my thoughts on where exactly where I was. I then took a small piece of paper out of my backpack. On it I wrote my new Hebrew name, a message to my sister, and a promise to myself.


The wall is old, but beautiful. Thousands of tiny notes stuffed every crevice and the wear of time marked its face.

Shakked explained the Wall's history and meaning in the Jewish faith, giving us a valuable perspective on our location.

Many of us separated and shared private moments with the wall.

The experience and sensation of being there was unforgettable.


 Tomorrow, we head to Yad Vashem, the world center for Holocaust Research and Museum. I know that we will all learn an incredible amount tomorrow, and I'm enjoying every moment of our last few days in the beautiful country of Israel.

-Matt






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