Student reflects on trip to Israel during offensive

Laura Cordle

When Casey Farber, a sophomore fashion merchandising major, arrived in Israel the day after Christmas, she said it seemed as though she was only in another state. Despite the war at hand, she said people still went about their daily lives.

Farber went to Israel for 10 days courtesy of Taglit-Birthright Israel, a Jewish organization that sends high school and college students on educational trips to Israel.

She stayed in a self-serving community called a Kibbutz, which was only twenty minutes walking distance away from Gaza, the main battle ground. Still, Farber said that the Israel she experienced was nothing like it is on the news.

Throughout her trip, she traveled with eight soldiers, and one of the days she traveled to sniper training grounds where she stayed with an 18-year old sniper.

“I felt so immature when I was with her,” she said. “I go out, I hang out with friends, but it’s whatever. She is two years younger than me, and she is saving her country.”

Even though Farber said that sometimes it only felt as though she was in just another state, it was still a very surreal experience for her.

“We couldn’t take public transportation in out of fear that we would get blown up by a suicide bomber,” she said.

One of the differences Farber said she noticed is that in America, people have options to do whatever they choose with their lives, whether they go to college after high school, get jobs or go into the military.

In Israel, people graduate from high school, then fight for their country. After they fulfill that duty, they may get a job, but not many people go to college.

“It was normal to walk around and see teenagers with rifles on their backs,” Farber said. “Living in fear was normal for them.”

In America, people live in different kinds of fear than those in Israel. Some Americans may have relatives fighting overseas, but the wars have been overseas, not in America.

While Farber was in Israel she said that there were certain things she took for granted. For example, every time a plane flew by, people would look up to see if bombs were being dropped. In America when a plane flies by, she said, people look up with envy wondering to what vacation destination people are heading.

In Israel, there is a place called the Kotel, a wall where people go to pray. It is the holiest place for Jews, Farber said.

“At night when I went to observe Shabbat, I’ve never seen so many Jews praying. It was so moving, and at the moment I sat and realized, I am a Jew.”

Contact news correspondent Laura Cordle at [email protected].