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Basics of Judaism

Social Responsibility vs. Visiting Israel

Question: My dilemma is choosing between a trip of a lifetime to Israel with my class which will help my growth with my education and my Judaism or staying home and attending my cheerleading practices so I do not let my team down with my absence which would mean fulfilling my responsibility and keeping a good relationship with my coaches and teammates.

Answer: Thanks for asking this great question. To me, this is a “no brainer,” but I understand the internal conflict. The truth is that it is great that this is a conflict for you. It means that you take responsibility very seriously. It means that you know when others are depending on you and that is a priority for you. You obviously are a caring person who wants to do for others and takes other people’s needs into consideration before making decisions.

With that said, I would strongly urge you to go to Israel. You are young. You are committed to school, to your clubs, to your hobbies, and to your friends and family. In 10 years that set of people, hopefully minus your family, will no longer be the ones that you spend time with and you will have a new set of friends. You will have a new set of interests. You will have a totally different life than you do now with a completely new set of priorities. In high school and college a student’s job is to figure out who they are. In 10 years you will look back on that Israel trip with awe and amazing feelings and emotions. If you stay with the group of cheerleaders you will know that you had a good time with friends that you probably will no longer, for the most part anyway, even associate with.

The trip to Israel can change your life forever. The cheerleading is a fleeting hobby that will go by the wayside when you leave your school. (Unless, of course, your life’s goal is to be a professional cheerleader, which I am betting that it is not).

Alice, Israel has the power to change people and quickly help them see who they are. Don”t waste that opportunity. Don’t let it slip by and always wonder, “What if I would have gone?” Don’t wake up the morning after cheerleading is over and wish you would have made a different decision. Your group will replace you, but you can’t replace this experience with anything. It is an amazing opportunity. Take it, savor it, and enjoy it. It is not greedy or wrong to commit to something that you need. Your team will continue without you. You need this for yourself.

I hope you have the internal strength to make the right choice.

Be Well,
Rabbi Litt

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