On January 24, Junior Aaron Norton will be traveling across the country to experience a new way a life for a whole semester. He was presented with the opportunity to explore his religion and a different culture by traveling to Israel for 5 months.

“About 75 kids from all across the country are going on the trip,” Norton said. “I am the only one from my Temple that is going. There are kids from Canada, the East Coast, and the West Coast going, so kind of from all over.”

This opportunity was presented for Reform Jewish Teens from all across the country.

“I’ve met with the director of the program a few times and he explained everything to me and I thought it sounded really cool,” Norton said. “It is an opportunity to get in touch with my religion, but to also experience different cultures, food, life and music.”

Many times, the news coming out of Israel does not get broadcasted to a larger audience. With this opportunity, Norton will be able to experience the conflict firsthand.

“I feel like a lot of people, including myself, just hear a lot of the news that is coming from Israel, so I wanted to be able to experience it myself because there is so much conflict there,” Norton said.

Being the only one from Temple Israel that is attending, Norton will have the chance to meet a lot of new people.

“I don’t know anyone that is going, I am going to meet all new people,” Norton said. “I feel like it is almost going to be like a semester of college because we will be living in dorms. We will also be attending a high school that is very similar to an American one.”

While he believes that the trip will be unforgettable, Norton is not ready to leave his family and friends yet.

“The things I’ll miss the most about Omaha are my friends, family and my dog,” Norton said. “It will definitely be different because this is the longest that I’ve ever been away from home. I’m looking forward to going, but I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye to my family and friends.”

Norton has been preparing for his semester of education outside of the United States by taking his core classes and preparing his school schedule in Israel.  

“This semester I’m taking a lot of my core classes,” Norton said. “When I go to Israel I have to send the syllabi from my classes over there. A lot of the kids that are going take the same classes as me, so it’s basically just like high school in the way that we will have a chemistry teacher, math teacher, english teacher and so on. I am the only person taking German, so I’ll probably have a one-on-one tutor while I’m there. It will basically be the same as Westside, so everyone will continue with their education.”

The native language in Israel is Hebrew, and Norton will be studying it to gain a better understanding of the language and its people.

“While I’m there I will take Hebrew, and I will get college credit for that,” Norton said. “Most of the people in Israel speak a little bit of English, but not a ton. I will learn Hebrew while I’m there so that I can communicate with them better.”

While it will be a huge change for him, Norton is excited to have this experience that he will remember forever.

“To be able to study there and experience the life there, it just seemed like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Norton said.

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