I spent my gap year in Israel. It’s a sentence I’m sometimes afraid to share because I understand the weight that comes with it. Israel is a place on which everyone has an opinion, and I, a Jewish-American woman, wanted to be able to develop my own. It’s an incredibly complicated, polarizing place. Even after a year there, I’m still not sure I can fully articulate my thoughts on certain topics. But what I do know is that Israel, for all its complexities and strife, is an incredible example of the cultural and religious diversity that makes our world so special.
In Jerusalem there are three religious sites: the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Each of these places is distinct in its meaning for the three major world religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. During my time in Israel, I was given the opportunity to visit all of these places in one day, because while they might seem worlds apart, they are all within 8 minutes of one another.
The pictures above are from that day. On the bottom is each individual landmark which holds so much meaning for its respective people. On the top is a view of the Old City from the Tower of David, where you can see each of those landmarks as a part of the whole. They do not exist in a vacuum just as religions do not exist in a vacuum. Religions grow from and evolve around each other, they rely on each other, a fact which is so easy to forget in our world. But this picture, the Old City of Jerusalem as a whole rather than its parts, is a beautiful reminder that we are indeed together, and it is our job to protect such religious and cultural diversity as best we can.
Anna Brosowsky is a first year psychology student from Washington, D.C.