Updates from Helyn B. Reich Recipient Justin Pollack

Helyn B. Reich Scholarship

Updates from 2008 Helyn B. Reich Recipients

Nira Lee | Justin Pollack

Update from Justin Pollack, WUJS participant

Upon arriving in Israel a little over 5 months ago, I had a certain set of expectations that got packed in my bags with my clothes and other personal belongings. Unlike my clothes, these thoughts and expectations were left in my suitcase, and I was given a whole new set of experiences and expectations that far exceeded what I initially came with.

My participation in the WUJS (World Union of Jewish Students) Program counts as my seventh venture to Israel – but unlike previous times, my life would not be spent for 1-4 weeks on a bus with a bunch of American teenagers touring the country. My time was spent on buses, in supermarkets, participating in special programs – all with Israelis. In a sense, I went from being a “tourist” to being a “local” – I began to understand and grasp the reality of Israeli society: and not just what my tour guide fed our groups in the past. Israel became more than just that sole democracy in the Middle East, more than just that “home away from home” for Diaspora Jews, more than that beacon among the other nations – it became “real” – in every horn honking, complicated, “sabraic” way possible.

In my relatively short time here, I have had the opportunity to meet with a great number of important individuals from whom I have gleaned insight onto the upper echelons of Israeli society, all while experiencing life as a “normal person.”

All of these experiences and adventures that have made me more comfortable in my Zionist skin thanks to the American Zionist Movement and the Helyn B. Reich Scholarship – thank you for such an amazing opportunity!