Wendy Salto ’22
I don’t know how to start to describe the roller coaster of emotions I experienced during my trip to Israel and Palestine. I’ve been back in school for a few weeks, and nothing seems to be the same anymore. I could go on and on about all the experiences that I got to share with Bus Four on this excursion, but instead I’m going to choose a specific moment.
I didn’t expect to feel any type of connection with the holy sites we visited. I haven’t really thought about my faith in God since the day I decided I would no longer force myself to believe in Him. I lost my faith and my religion several years ago after the death of my grandmother.
My grandmother and I used to say prayers together and read passages from the Bible when I came home from school. I would go to church with my family, and I even took four years of Confraternity of Christian Doctrine classes. However, after she passed away, I left that all behind and never looked back. We weren’t exactly close or saw eye to eye on everything, but I noticed when her presence was no longer felt in the house.
To my surprise, a whirlwind of emotions hit me when we went to Mount of Beatitudes. It was so peaceful. So pure and genuine.
It was the first time in about six years that I had entered a church. I had refused to go to the mass they had during my grandmother’s funeral. I cried multiple times during this visit because I could not understand fully what I was feeling. I still truly can’t put it into words. I got to live one of the biggest dreams my grandmother ever had.
Ultimately, there were moments of happiness and laughter and anger. It wouldn’t have been the life-changing trip it was had it not been for the combination of emotions. I will always look back to that trip and be touched I was chosen and allowed to experience it, all thanks to the David Project.
I know that a few people have strong opinions against this trip because of the conflict between Israel and Palestine right now, but I felt like sharing a part of my experience could help shed light on an alternative perspective.
It was very insightful and interesting to have participated in. We got to hear perspectives from both sides, explore holy sites and the holy city, explore nightlife, but most of all got to eat amazing cuisine.
For students interested in doing this trip next year, reach out to Hillel and/or the David Project intern on campus!
Wendy Salto ’22