Taking Israel Off of Her Pedestal – Liora Alban

Note from the editor: In preparation to present my blog project at this week’s iCenter iFellows Masters Concentration in Israel Education Seminar (say that 5x fast), I asked a few folks I know have been following along to share the ways in which they have used the blog. A couple of people responded in such well-stated ways that I asked if they would be willing to have me share their words with you all. Here is the first of two responses.

I started reading the blog, 50 Days of Israel: Thinking About Israel from Slavery to Sinai after Dusty posted it on her facebook. Being a Jew, a future rabbinical student, and a person who struggles with her relationship to Israel, I was intrigued.

After living in Israel for a year, I returned with more questions than answers about this beautiful homeland. Although Israel has always felt like home, certain challenges and experiences in my last year made me take Israel off of its pedestal. I realized that the warm and utopian Israel which had been presented to me through Jewish education and youth trips is not the entire picture. Most noticeably, being a Progressive Jewish woman was difficult inside of traditional Jerusalem. I yearned to to sing, dance, pray, and ultimately, be, freely.

50 Days of Israel cements the fact that I am not the only committed Jew with these frustrations. The blog includes voices of friends and future colleagues whom I respect and whom allow me to sit comfortably with my own criticisms of Israel. They make me realize that with a love of Israel comes a wanting to improve it, and that this is okay. Further, the writers oftentimes present opinions on Israel that are new or different from mine. Sometimes I know the writers and sometimes I do not. Each writer answers the blog’s questions in his or her own way, encouraging me to ask myself those same questions. With each answer by a different writer, I am presented with something new to consider and a new contribution to my own answer. It is helping to carry me therefore along my own journey from slavery to revelation, from confusion about Israel to an understanding and acceptance of the beautiful complexities that shape this Jewish homeland.


Liora Alban  earned her B.A. in Religious Studies with a concentration in Judaism from The University of California, Berkeley in December 2013. She also studied religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Although Liora grew up in Los Angeles and enjoyed exploring Berkeley, she cannot wait to make the move to Jerusalem in July 2014 as she begin pursuing her rabbinical ordination at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.