Reflections on My Time at Hebrew University
By Ellie Schneiderman Hochman, Montreal
Born and raised in Montreal’s Jewish community, being a pro-Israel advocate was just a part of my everyday existence. Spending a year in Israel was not an uncommon thing, even though I was the only one in my high school’s graduating class to go when I did. Quite frankly, I don’t even remember the turning point that made me decide. I do remember being 16 and saying, point blank, that I would be going and putting together a list of all the things I needed to achieve to get there.
In 2004-2005, I joined the one-year program at Rothberg as an 18-year-old ‘freshman.’ I remember there were two stereotypes of what parents feared would happen with their ‘kids’ – either they would completely change their religious perspective and adherence (becoming 180 degrees more secular or religious than when they had left) or they wouldn’t be coming home and would be die-hard, never-leaving Israel fans. I remember not feeling any of those things, even being rather excited to head back home.
Today, 15 years later, I am living happily married in Israel and mother to an amazing and rambunctious little girl. How did my year at Rothberg influence my life? I have no clue what to pinpoint as specific moments or encounters that I got from my year because my daily life today is so deeply ingrained and intertwined with the experiences and values that were shaped by studying at Hebrew U. These include the people I befriended, the lectures I attended and sometimes took part in and the life lessons I learned from all of that in that very year and over the past 15 years since then.
The impact is so significant it surmounts the fact that some of my closest friends were acquired on that year abroad, and that I of course learnt a lot about myself and the world, and Israel in particular. The impact came also from leaving behind everything you know, not only your comfort zone, and doing so during a very tense, tumultuous time, especially over the news channels back in Canada. This was long before WhatsApp and smart phones were in everyone’s pocket, so my parents didn’t have faster updates from me than from the media..
To really sum it up, the impact of my year at Hebrew U is in recognizing that your state of mind has changed, in a more enriching and all encompassing way, even if you didn’t know it then.
- Ellie is living in Israel and currently the ‘Special Projects Manager’ for an international animation studio, headquartered in Tel Aviv.