Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passover reflections from Beersheva, by May blogger of the month Talie Lewis

Hello Blog followers,

My name is Talie and I am excited to be typing up my thoughts in this way for the first time.

We first years have officially been on vacation for the past 10 days. This break began right after we took our Microbiology shelf exam, which tested us on all small things in the world that can cause infection.....and there are a lot. I'm including this in my post because I feel obligated to write something medical school-y. If I only included the text to come, you could easily assume I was just in Israel for a visit.

As many of my classmates boarded flights to the States, Europe and some other exciting locations two Thursdays ago, I began cleaning my apartment for Passover. A few months ago, when I found out my sister Rachie was going to be visiting Israel during this time, we decided that we would host two traditional Passover seders (ritual feasts that mark the beginning of Passover...according to wikipedia) for friends and family in my apartment in Beersheva. While I have always been an active participant in seders, I have never been a host and was excited for the opportunity.

I came to Israel knowing some people who were already living here or who had decided to spend this year in Israel. Hosting these seders gave me the opportunity to bring them, as well as some of my wonderful classmates who I have gotten to know over the past 9 months, together for two nights of traditional Passover foods, enlightening discussions and spirited singing.   

The two groups that ended up coming to these seders were both composed of an extremely interesting mix of people. My father and his wife, who live in Jersualem, two cousins, one of whom also lives in Jerusalem and the other of whom is studying in a Jewish learning institution for 10 months before he starts college next year. There were friends from college, a brother of a friend from college, a friend from summer camp, one of my sister's former housemates and of course, MSIH classmates. The range of experiences and world views that were present was pretty wide and I think that through our discussions about the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt many years ago (which is the central theme of Passover seders) and the various directions in which those discussions went, that range manifested itself in some pretty cool ways. Many old and many new questions were asked. Very traditional Jewish interpretations of the passover texts were offered as were interpretations that incorporated modern day examples of oppression, freedom and revolutions.

After reflecting on the mixture of ideas that came up over the course of those two nights, I realize that many of the thoughts I have had regarding Israel and the ways in which it relates to different populations, since arriving in Beersheva last July were expressed by a bunch of individuals; from questions of what role a nation's history should play in modern decision making, to the tensions that arise from ensuring that Israel remain a Jewish state, to questions of who should have rights and what rights should they have. I don't bring these up with the intention of sounding political but rather to point out that I think part of living in Israel, especially in a medical school for international health context, is dealing with, or at least just thinking about, questions regarding the rights of different populations and more specifically how they affect health care access and cultural sensitivity. Having thought these thoughts on a regular basis, it seems appropriate that they played a significant role in my Passover seder experience.

On that note, I bid anyone who is reading this farewell and wish you a lovely day :)  - May blogger of the month Talie Lewis