Amit Luria participated in the second class of the Tiferet program at the Hannaton Midrasha. Born in Jerusalem and raised in the nearby town of Mevasseret Tzion, Amit came from a very secular home. Her Mom grew up in an Orthodox home in Argentina but left it completely at the age of 24 when she came to Israel. Amit’s father is “from the most secular background possible”. Her maternal grandfather is still an Orthodox Jew and until Amit came to Hannaton, he was her only connection to the religion itself.
Amit, 21, finished the army in February 2017. After completing the army, entrance exams for university and a trip to the U.S., she returned ready to work in agriculture. While she did consider other programs besides Tiferet, she chose Hannaton’s program because it also offered Jewish studies and group living. And the diversity of the community at Hannaton intrigued her.
So how was the Tiferet program?
One of the best parts of the program for Amit was the learning. With a huge variety of studies
– including subjects from post-trauma and how Israeli theater has dealt with it over the years to women in the Bible to the Holocaust to Psychology – each teacher and each class brought something new and interesting to the students. For Amit, it also helped guide her own path. “Having grown up with doctors for parents, it’s hard to imagine any other profession. Hannaton exposed me to other possibilities”.
Tiferet allows the students to learn independently. “Some of us felt we were missing basic Jewish texts, so we turned to Rabbi Amy Levin, a Conservative rabbi who lives on the kibbutz, and asked her to teach us Gemara. This is a whole new world that I was never exposed to. Now that I know what it is, I think everyone should study it because it shows that there can be different opinions, without a decision about who is right and who is wrong. The important part is to talk about it and think about it”.
Thinking back on what brought her to Hannaton, Amit says part of the reason was to get more in touch with her Jewish side. “It’s a problem that people who grow up secular in Israel are not exposed to any of this. When friends of mine came to visit me at Hannaton, they were afraid to try a class that had the word “Judaism” in it. But then they went to the class and really enjoyed it”. At Hannaton, the synagogue also became an important place for Amit. Amit says she enjoyed the atmosphere of the Hannaton synagogue on Shabbat evening, where its joyous and full of singing and she found herself searching for personal meaning in the words of the prayers.
Perhaps the most important part of the program for Amit was being a part of a community. “The Tiferet group was great. It was the first time I really felt like I have a place, where I am understood and accepted. I felt that my voice was heard and that I was also more open to hearing other people. Despite our differences, we came open-minded and ready to accept each other. Where high school was all about finding your group and divisions, Tiferet is about discovering what we have in common”. Amit’s roommate, Nitzan, was observant, so Amit had to learn new rules and be respectful of her friend’s needs. She sees this as something very positive. “People need to be exposed to different cultures and different religious perspectives. Because when you learn that there is still so much we have in common, that’s the first step in becoming open-minded and accepting”.
Amit Luria completed the Tiferet program in March 2018. She is currently hiking the Israel Trail with the friends she made on the program.