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אם יוצאים מגיעים למקומות נפלאים”

This is the first sentence in the Hebrew version of the book “Oh, the places you’ll go” by Dr. Seuss. It means “If you go on Journeys, You’ll get to wonderful places”.

That’s the phrase I had in my mind when we started boarding on the Plane on August 28th, 2018. Almost 12 months ago. I had just finished high school, and was about to spend a year in a place I knew only from Google Maps Street View. I was nervous, overwhelmed, but mostly confused. I just didn’t know what to expect. But as soon as I got here, I realized Dr. Seuss is right. If you go on Journeys, you will find wonderful places.

I don’t think I can summarize this year in words. It is just, everything. This year makes you miss your family, friends and dog like you’ve never missed them before, it makes you realize that between you and the ocean there are 19 states, it makes you wonder why you don’t hear fighter jets roaming over your head.

It makes you feel like you are the luckiest person on earth when you hear Hebrew, it makes you dream and speak to yourself in English, it makes you wish you could have some good hummus in the middle of the night, it makes you answer “מה?” – Hebrew for “What?” – to English speakers and vice versa.

It makes you stand for the Memorial Day Siren at 3am, it makes you ask yourself where are the sad songs on the radio when something bad happens in Israel. It makes you feel like you’re home, 10,000 kilometers away from home.

But the most beautiful things this year had to offer, were the things you could never find anywhere else. The feelings you will never feel anywhere else in the world, doesn’t matter how far you travel.

This feeling of singing Havdalah on a Sunday School Morning, this feeling of giving a high five to a kid I know from the Pre-school, the feeling of sitting and laughing with the teens on a Lounge Night meeting, this feeling of speaking in front of the congregation on a Friday night or on a Saturday morning, the feeling of a Kiddush with the hosting family. Those feelings, together with many more, are the reason why this amazing year as a ShinShin cannot be summarized with words.

Actually, I don’t want to summarize this experience with words, I just want to thank you, all of you, for making me unable to describe this year. I will forever be the most grateful and thankful person on the planet for my second home – The Jewish community of St. Louis.

Cynthia, Cyndee, Rabbi Bennett and Rabbi Arnow, Rabbi Shafrin and Rabbi Levine, Rabbi Goldstein, Rabbi Zinn and Cantor Seth, Marci Diamond, Liz Collins, Karen Lucy, Beth Kodner, The Cytrons, The Horowitz’s, The Rosens and The Silvermans and many, many more people around the community. Thank you for making this year unforgettable.

As Dr. Seuss once wrote, if you go on journeys you will find wonderful places. One year ago I went on a journey and found this wonderful place.

Thank you.