Curled up in the fetal position with a fever today has given me a lot of time to think critically about the last month and half of this incredible experience in Israel. For one, missing the last two days of work has been simply devastating. I love experiencing my internship’s zany office culture, learning from my supervisor’s relentless drive to excel, and adjusting to my co-workers’ (endearing) lack of personal boundaries. One part real estate private equity firm and one part family, Axiom Global Investments is an internship placement opportunity nonpareil.
My second realization comes as a megaphone blares outside my four story North Tel Aviv flat. Not the siren alert of an imminent ballistic threat that would have been commonplace in this very spot a year ago, but something different altogether; a massive protest across from the Chinese embassy. I begin to consider the power of words, and how fortunate I am to have been blessed with the privilege to express myself verbally.
As one might plausibly imagine, a group of nearly fifty American students has plenty to say. Whether concerning the macro (like the feasibility of a successful Iran deal) or the micro (aroma sandwiches…again!?) our bus rides are often filled to the brim with colorful conversation. Occasionally, our cup doth runeth over. In a society that glorifies the loquaciously silver tongued bombast and condemns the “awkward silence”, I question the value of silence and how, when it comes to words, more is not always merrier.
Over the course of last weekend’s Onward Israel Shabbaton in Kibbutz Galon, our cohort had ample time to consider these issues. In light of a previous week characterized by a certain degree of internal social tension and oral friction, these 60 hours in nature could not have been more therapeutic. With programming that was conducive to fostering constructive dialogue between people, a collective cohort identity soon began to crystalize. Perhaps one reason why our words had been driving us apart until now was that we simply had no idea just how rejuvenating the power of speech could be. Whether I was seeing secular and religious Jews pray together or hearing the unifying laughter of two strangers, I could not help but consider that we had all grown closer to one another than we had ever thought possible.