“My Garin Urim Family” – by Naih Anson Garin Urim 2018
"It is difficult to remember life without my Garin Urim family or my greater Garin Tzabar family."
The Las Vegas Jewish community is small but thriving. Within it, you can find almost everything you need. However, I was first exposed to living a Jewish life when I studied abroad on a Kibbutz for a high school semester: notes did not have to be sent home to miss school for holidays, a newly built Sukkah was seen on every corner, and Magen David necklaces were
proudly worn by so many. This feeling subsided as I left my Las Vegas home for college just three years later, to a suburb of Chicago, and I became one of the very few Jewish students.
As Hillel president for my four years as a college student, there were successes and failures, but I was always reminiscing of my time living a more purposeful Jewish life while in Israel. I had thoughts of making Aliyah, considerations of joining the army, but it was not until I was working at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland that I decided to put my words into actions. Preparing to speak in front of the Council, I expected to witness minds
working together in hopes of building a greater future for this world.
Instead, remarks after remarks were presented blaming Israel for downfalls within society that extended far past the Jewish state. My only hope at that moment was that my actions as a member of the Israel
Defense Force would work to better the world in ways my words at the Council could not.
As a part of Garin Tzabar, the feelings of helplessness that were present during my past jobs within the Jewish community subsided. Empowered and eager, myself and others joined together to create a family, sharing an ideal that we all held so highly, which was to serve the State of Israel.
Only three months have passed since arriving at Kibbutz Urim, but it already feels so natural for it to be home. Even more so, the family that I created within Garin Tzabar and the relationships that flourished through it began before the plane even touched down at Ben Gurion and before we became settled into our new Kibbutz homes. Four seminars in Chicago,
IL paved a path for success for our Garin. With programming ranging from icebreakers (sometimes even literally) to discussions about the role of women in the army and how to assist each other during times of crises — trust, honesty, responsibility, and involvement were pillars that were able to be built and ingrained within our Garin before we began our journey in-country.
Making Aliyah is often presented as an idealistic journey, full of self-discovery and revelation, and, it is. But what is often forgotten in the heartwarming videos that we watch of a journey home to the State of Israel, are the hardships and impediments that had to be overcome
in order to truly feel at home here. Personally, I have no family here. Open weekends during our absorption period can be difficult at times: missing what used to be home, or what may be still is, thinking about the decision I made, and sometimes wishing to be transported back to my nearby support system that I had while in college. But, then, in that same instant, I am brought back to the invitations to the families and friends of members of my Garin, Shabbat dinner with an incredible host family that reminds me and others what a family becomes when you make Aliyah,
and my new Garin family. We didn’t choose each other, we met in the lobby of a hotel by the O’Hare Airport only 10 months ago.
We come from different backgrounds, ages, and Jewish practices. But, now, it is difficult to remember life without my Garin Urim family or my greater Garin Tzabar family. Through them, I am reminded, on the occasional difficult day, why I am here, why we are all here, and the journey that lies ahead of us that will be made possible through the support of one another.