Anna Ehrlich to spend semester at kibbutz in Israel

Going abroad for a school term can be an incredible experience. A student can work in a new environment, often one that offers features and facilities that aren’t available at Blake. Whenever someone goes to a new place, they get exposure to a new culture, education system, and living experience. Every year, several Blake students study abroad for either a year or a semester, and this year, Anna Ehrlich ’14 will be going to Israel to spend her second semester at a school through the Eisendrath International Exchange program, sponsored by the National Federation of Temple Youth.
Ehrlich is driven to take advantage of this opportunity to study for a semester in Israel by her own culture and heritage as a Jewish person. The school Ehrlich will be attending is on a kibbutz. She defines a kibbutz to be “a small society, technically socialist. You live there and you can farm there—to live there you have to do some sort of work for the kibbutz…most people don’t have jobs outside of the kibbutz. The one I’ll be staying at runs a hotel and that’s how it supports itself. It is in many ways its own little society, but still a big part of the Israeli culture.” Experiencing and understanding the lifestyle in a kibbutz is a primary reason that Ehrlich is taking this semester abroad.
Education is also a motive behind going to Israel for a semester. “I’m taking all my general classes. I also gain Hebrew and Israeli Land, Cultures, and People, so that focuses on Israeli life and cultural development through existence—since Israel isn’t that old, you can cover the entire history in a semester.” Alongside study in history and language, general features of Israel, Ehrlich also hopes to study current issues and observe the situation in Israel firsthand, rather than on a television screen. “I hope to develop a foreign affairs perspective from a non-American, international perspective,” says Ehrlich.
Along with expanding her perspective and knowledge in current issues, Ehrlich would like to explore Judaism further. “I want to broaden my understanding of Reform Judaism outside of my temple, since it’s a broad spectrum that I’m on a conservative side of—I want to learn about more liberal Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, other Jewish stuff.”
By going to Israel for a semester, Anna hopes to significantly increase her knowledge of the Israeli lifestyle, language, culture, and history, Israeli perspective on its affairs, and understanding of her religion.

*a political map is included