Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Life Lessons of Onions

Stepping out of our air conditioned bus into the hot Israeli sun all I could think of was my own misery. I was sweating, tired, and sticky from sunscreen. We were standing in a large field in the heat of the day being asked to pull onions from their roots, pull off their stems, fill baskets, and dump them into a large bin which was to be taken to homeless shelters, and food banks around Israel. In the midst of this meaningful experience of giving back, all my group and I could do was complain about the heat and our exhaustion. 

Earlier that day my good friend Dana and I were talking on the bus about the impact our out-of-home experiences like summer camps and Israel trips have on us. We agreed that coming home from these experiences we feel renewed, in touch with our identities, and more socially and environmentally aware.  We marveled at the impact these short experiences can have on us but then discussed our mutual disappointment in ourselves that only months later we lose touch with all these wonderful revelations and values.

Standing under the blazing sun in the onion fields, hungry, hot, and with blisters forming on my fingers from pulling off one too many onion stems, I reflected on this conversation with Dana.  I thought back to all the values my previous trips and summer camp experiences had instilled in me. Things like being environmentally conscious, learning how to work with others, how to learn in general, how to find my own Jewish and personal identity  came to mind, but the value that stuck out most in my mind was community.

To me community means respecting everyone, being accepting and accepted, and most of all support. The power of communal support can change lives. I realized, in the heat of the onion field, that I needed to put my own selfish complaints on the back burner and focus on the fact that I was being given the opportunity of a life time. The opportunity to support those less fortunate than I, to create a ripple effect of good karma and positivity through the world. The opportunity to apply all the values I learned, to support those who haven't been as blessed as I am, and most of all to be part of a community.

---Sarah Eylon

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