This summer, MEOR history was made. On May 31st 2012, Over 200 students and staff from campuses across the country all came together for a magical evening in Jerusalem: the first annual Cross-MEOR Israel Experience!
Beyond The Classroom
“Light Unto the Nation” was an event like no other, meant to offer an experience beyond classroom learning. The intention was to feel the “renaissance” of Judaism spreading throughout the country. The evening’s festivities included a delicious BBQ dinner, group discussions that fostered inter-campus connections, and on the main stage: Shlomo Katz!
Food, Conversation, & Socializing
The program began with an abundant Israeli BBQ dinner: salads, meats, pita, and of course lots of hummus. Meanwhile, discussion groups were led by MEOR staff and the groups were intentionally composed of mixtures of students from various campuses. Up until this point, the individual MEOR Israel trips had only really had the opportunity to meet students from within their own schools and programs. At “Light Unto the Nation,” students formed new friendships, and experienced first-hand the vast effect MEOR has had on hundreds of others just like them. This was the “intellectual” component of the experience, as everyone shared ideas and insights into the state of Jewish learning on college campuses and the collective and individual responsibilities to the Jewish people. And of course, the “physical” was well-attended to with that scrumptious dinner.
A Concert Like No Other
As the discussions died down, students became more comfortable introducing themselves to one another and bonding. By the time the music began, arms were quickly thrown about shoulders and waists, and the feeling of unity was tremendous. Shlomo Katz played his heart out, and no one wanted him to leave the stage when he had completed his set. He and his talented band performed while MEOR students sang and danced to the inspiring and uplifting music. The outdoor venue was perfect – as the sun set over Jerusalem, the sounds of young energetic Jewish voices singing along to tunes they had only just learned could be heard for what seemed like miles away. This addressed the third component of self – “emotional” – and everyone could feel the intensity and connection. The MEOR family had been formed, and its voice continued to ring out, even after the instruments had stopped playing.
Ryan Roslyn, a student at University of Virginia School of Law and an NYU Film graduate, described the experience as, “not merely a celebration like how a graduation might celebrate an academic achievement, a happy hour might celebrate a promotion or even how gefilte fish at Shabbos dinner might celebrate a successful week. Rather, it was an all-encompassing xanadu celebrating our burgeoning spiritual identities with all our newfound friends and spiritual leaders.”
“We wanted them to palpably feel that they are part of something bigger, a movement of future leaders of Judaism connecting to the relevance and passion of their tradition,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Styne, Educational Director for MEOR.
There’s Only More to Come
This was only the first of what we hope to be many “MEOR Experiences” over the years, as the number of MEOR campuses increases, and Jewish light and learning spreads to hundreds more students across the nation. If “Light Unto the Nation” was any indication, there’s no end in sight to the power and excitement of the MEOR family!