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I have always lived in the same safe house in the same safe city. Although safety has always been a guaranteed reality in my life, experiencing a place that was truly dangerous made me realize how sheltered I actually am. I had managed to step out of my little bubble occasionally, so I never realized what it felt like to live in fear that my safety might be taken away.

When I went to Israel this summer with NFTY Mitzvah Corps for a community service trip, my perspective on life completely shifted when the terrorist group, Hamas, started to fire rockets at the country from Gaza the second day I was in Israel. My trip was completely changed because of terrorist attacks, something I never would have imagined experiencing in a million years.

One day my group stopped at a gas station so that we could buy snacks for a drive to the Negev Desert. As I was about to go in line to buy a pack of gum, I suddenly heard a warning siren go off. I immediately ran into a bomb shelter with the other people at the gas station. I had no clue how long I would have to stay in that bomb shelter or how close the rocket was to us.

Although I had only spent 10 minutes in the shelter, the reality that rockets were being shot at the country truly began to sink in. As I started to have a deeper understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I felt a mix of fear and guilt. I was afraid because I never had to worry about this in my life before and felt guilty because I only had to go in a bomb shelter once for ten minutes whereas Israelis are interrupted by the blaring sounds of sirens daily.

What I began to realize throughout my month in Israel was that even though the Israelis are living with this conflict, Israel is still a remarkable place and should not be thought of as anything less. After this experience, I’ve started to further question why there is so much hatred in the world we live in. Everyday, I hear more about the horrid things that are happening around the world and each day I question what I can do about it. Although I have not quite figured out the answer yet, I am determined to find it. I’ll get back to you in a couple months and let you know how it goes.

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