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As Israeli’s struggle to deal with the recent reality of Arab attacks, we are seeking out our alumni living there to hear firsthand what their lives are like–how they are coping, continuing to live their lives and remaining strong. This post comes from Marnina Harris (’15), who is studying at Midreshet Torah Chessed. If you would like to submit a post to our Academy Stories blog, email She wrote this piece for her seminary newsletter.

This week, I was reading a book with one of my kids and we stumbled upon a map of the world.

“Where is your house?” he asked me.

I point to the approximate location of Chicago and said “Right there.”

“And where is my house?”

I then point to Israel on the map.

At that point he placed his finger on Israel and dragged it across the page to where I showed him Chicago was on the map and he seemed impressed. We then had a conversation about what I was doing this year in Israel- but I couldn’t help but think of Parshat Lech-Lecha.

In this weeks parsha, Avraham is told by G-d to leave his land and go where Hashem will tell him to go. And of course, Avraham does so without hesitation. This is one of those stories that we’ve heard since we were little children, so we often forget how truly spectacular Avraham was for accomplishing this. Avraham was essentially told to pack his bags and immediately leave his home, friends, family and everything that he’s comfortable and familiar with, and go to some unfamiliar place that G-d will guide him to. That’s what true faith in G-d really is. But on top of his unshakable trust in Hashem, we also quickly see in Avraham’s story his prominent trait of chessed and his constant giving to others despite the difficult task that Hashem has presented him with.

By coming to MTC this year, this is in essence what we’ve decided to do. Our year emulates Avraham’s story. We’re all far away from home where we feel safe and comfortable. We’re in a new place with new people, new surroundings, and an unfamiliar language, yet, like Avraham, we’ve decided to take this situation and use it as a way in which we can give to others.

As Avraham continues to perform more and more acts of chessed throughout his life, he is faced with tests that become increasingly difficult, yet he is able to pass them all. Avraham’s giving nature puts him in a place conducive to further growth. This is what we hope to achieve from our year. To continue in Avraham’s path and use our chessed combined with our Torah learning to help us grow throughout the year and beyond.

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