Home is a place where you were born to belong. It’s where you grow, where you learn, where you find out who you are. Home is a springboard that launches you from a solid foundation into the air and home is also the cushion for when you don’t land on your feet.
For Jews on every continent, home is a physical reality. Most Jews live in the Diaspora, but no matter what, the Jewish people can always call Israel home.
For the residents of Beit T’Shuvah, home has been nothing more than a fictional construction, a fabrication of a normal life that has long been out of reach. The actions of their past lives have caused them to forget that, as part of the Jewish People, they will always have a home.
“My grandfather lived in Palestine for 2 years after he escaped Germany in 1938,” says Josh, one of the participants slated for this trip. Josh looks forward to this chance to reconnect with his heritage, and he sees Israel in part as a family home in addition to a homeland.
Before he occupied a bed at Beit T’Shuvah, Josh had spent time living in the bed of his 2001 Toyota Tacoma pick-up: a ragged (though still running) collection of sunburnt paint, a front bumper bent on both sides, only two out of four hubcaps, and a broken latch on the hardshell camper that gave him shelter. This summer, Josh will be able to call a much larger collectionof images home: the shimmering Kineret near the Golan Heights, the lights of city night life in Tel-Aviv, loud vendors selling perfectly crispy-on-the-outside and soft-on-the-inside green falafel, the hot sun in the Negev, the smooth yet grainy mud at the Dead Sea, and the slick Jerusalem stone worn down by millennia of Jewish feet.
Israel became the Jewish home at the end of the biblical journey of Hebrew slaves who had escaped Egypt. Beit T’Shuvah culture emphasizes the connection between this journey to Israel and an addict’s journey to sobriety. In the musical Freedom Song, the comparison is made directly, but through groups, individual therapy, programs, and torah study, Beit T’Shuvah instills in its residents the perspective that they themselves have escaped slavery, that when they were in their addiction, no place could feel like their own home. Now sober, these 12 Beit T’Shuvah residents are finally able to feel at home.
The only thing in the way for each of them is their own $500 ticket to New York. From there, Taglit-Birthright will take care of their homecoming. You can make sure they get there by clicking here and donating to the cause.