Monday, June 24, 2019

Eva Ingber and Alex Melzer (Frisch alum, left) before their Gemara Shabbaton. (Credit: Eva Ingber)

(l-r) Jackie Tokayer, Eva Ingber, Sasha Schreiber and Becca Rosenzweig (all SAR alums). (Credit: Eva Ingber)

Eva Ingber and Darbie Sokolow (Ramaz alum, right) in Jerusalem before one of their first Shabbatot in Israel. (Credit: Eva Ingber)

Eva Ingber is studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem. She grew up in White Plains, attended SAR from nursery through twelfth grade, and loves it with a passion. Her family davens at Young Israel.

Her next stop? University of Pennsylvania.

Why did you choose to study at Lindenbaum?

I felt Lindenbaum was what I was looking for in a school, both socially and academically. The student body is very diverse: we have girls hailing from Westchester, New York City, New Jersey and Brooklyn, as well as France, the UK and Australia. Lindenbaum is also home to an Israeli program, a South American program and a special needs program. It’s been exciting to meet so many new girls from all different walks of life and Jewish communities.

Academically, I chose Lindenbaum for its intellectual and stimulating Torah learning. There are myriads of courses to choose from, ranging from your classic Gemara shiur to a thought-provoking class on the complexities of Modern Orthodoxy. In addition to my classes, I greatly appreciate the fact that independent study is much encouraged at Lindenbaum. Here, I felt that there is a successful balance between  guidance and freedom in exploring one’s Jewish identity, and this really drew me in.

What kind of goals do you have for the year?

First and foremost, I want to learn in an environment which would expand my knowledge of Torah, to help me navigate my life as a practicing Jew in a modern, secular world. I also want to spend time in Israel, to really experience the country and its rich culture.

What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?

This is a hard question, because I’ve had so many memorable moments so far. One of my favorites, though, was definitely Selichot at Lindenbaum. This may sound funny, because what’s there to like about Selichot? At Lindenbaum, they are absolutely beautiful. It’s easy for Selichot to be rote and boring, but here they were brought to life. The Israelis sung with such passion, harmonizing, dancing around the room, banging on drums, that I was swept away by the music. And, though the tunes were initially unfamiliar, by the end of Selichot, I couldn’t get them out of my head. Standing in Lindenbaum’s cavernous beit midrash, the sound of Jewish girls from all over filling the space with song, was extremely moving and a memory I won’t forget.

What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?

The biggest challenges have been being without my family, and acknowledging that life as I knew it — my school, the comfort of my surroundings — has changed, that I can’t go back. This realization was terrifying and was difficult to accept. Though this year is exciting and filled with new opportunities, it is also, in a way, a period of mourning, letting go and learning how to move on.

How has your year been different than your expectations?

I’d like to say that I was prepared, but I really think that it’s hard to truly be prepared for this experience. Picking up my life, moving to a foreign country, living on my own, fending for myself and being surrounded by new people. It’s overwhelming to try to balance it all. I think that I naively expected the transition to go smoothly; I am now learning to be comfortable with the fact that adjusting is a process that is unique to each person.

Regarding the “culture shock,” I think I’ve definitely experienced this, even though I’ve visited Israel many times before. There is no autumn here, the leaves don’t change and there are hardly any overcast days (yet!). And, though New Yorkers are known to be assertive, Israeli aggression is a whole other level: try navigating the shuk on a Friday afternoon!

Where is your favorite place to go for weekends / Shabbat so far?

My favorite places to go for Shabbat are to Ra’anana, and to my aunt’s home in Tel Aviv.

Which is one of your favorite classes at Lindenbaum?

Of the amazing classes on offer at Lindenbaum, I’d say it’s a tie between the Modern Orthodoxy class with Rav Aaron Wexler, and my Rav Kook class with Rav Ari Shvat.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I’m most looking forward to the new experiences, learning, memories, friendships and growth. And, of course, the delicious shawarma and falafel!

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