Talia Rosen is studying at Bar Ilan XP in the Ramat Ef’al neighborhood of Ramat Gan. She grew up in Teaneck and attended Frisch for high school. Her family davens at Young Israel of Teaneck, and in the summers she has attended Camp Moshava IO.
Her next stop? Rutgers School of Nursing, New Brunswick.
Why did you choose to study at Bar Ilan XP?
I chose to come on XP because it was the perfect blend of every program that I wanted in Israel. I knew I wanted Judaic classes to help me grow, but I also wanted secular classes to prep me for the secular college I will be attending next year. I wanted to be in a college setting as well so that I don’t lose my work ethic during the year and would be as prepared as possible to take on college after this.
Additionally, I wanted a program with a lot of freedom. On XP, if I have no classes or work one afternoon I have the freedom and privilege to make my own adventures. I can jump on a bus to anywhere a bus could take me, as long as I get back by curfew. And if I don’t want to schedule my own night, there are always activities happening on campus for me to be a part of.
Bar Ilan XP also gave me the opportunity to train in MDA as an EMT, and this semester I began picking up shifts on ambulances, doing the chesed I love to do.
What kind of goals do you have for the year?
My goals going into this year were mostly to grow and discover the person I want to be. Through MDA I rediscovered my love for helping people and reignited my excitement for nursing school next year. Through making the incredible friends I made this year (shout out to all of them!) I realized how meaningful friendships are and how close I should hold them. I also acquired a new love for the Land of Israel through my explorations, and realization that no matter how much time I spend here, I’m constantly finding out new things and meeting new and interesting people.
What have been some of the highlights of your year so far?
A big highlight of my year has been the Negev tiyul we went on. We hiked up and down Masada before 8 a.m. and had the coolest experience learning about the Bedouin traditions at the Bedouin tents. Though this was the most exciting trip, the most inspiring one was probably when we visited Sderot. Learning about the struggle the people of Sderot, especially the children, live through and how they still stand their ground as strong as ever was so inspiring.
What kind of challenges have you faced coming to Israel?
Our program did a good job cushioning the blow of being in a new country, so although of course I get homesick, I have an amazing support system to help me out. That being said, being in a new country and not knowing much of the language has been a bit of a challenge. Of course, learning the bus system and getting around and communicating with the people around me is challenging, but I find myself getting more comfortable doing it every day, even if my Hebrew still has room for improvement.
How has your year been different from your expectations?
As hard as the culture shock has been here, the fact that I am in the Jewish state makes it all better. One Shabbat I was getting stressed, nervous that I wasn’t going to catch my buses and get to a friend for Shabbat. I looked up at a bus pulling up to the stop I was standing at and saw that the bus said “Shabbat Shalom.” In that moment, a wave of relief swept over me. I knew that although I was a little lost and late, no matter what I was in a country designed for me, where people go through what I am going through every week, and everything would work out (and, of course, it did). So as much as I expected the culture shock that I most certainly got and still experience, I didn’t expect to feel so at home here as well.
Where is your favorite place to go for weekends/Shabbat so far?
I have actually fallen in love with Ramat Beit Shemesh. So far I have visited there for Shabbat three times, once at the Seminary Tiferet, and the other two times at teachers’ homes, and I loved every time. It is beautiful there, and part of my love is definitely that many people there speak English, so I feel a bit more at ease.
Who is a teacher at Bar Ilan you connect to especially well?
I connect to all of my teachers for all of my classes and have great relationships with each of them. That being said, I absolutely love my eim bayit, Orly Sasson, and my madrichot, Rivka Greenstone, Tova Bitterman, Zahava Selig and Jessica Gelbard with all my heart. Without them on campus with me, and supporting me every day, I don’t know what I would do.
Which is one of your favorite classes at Bar Ilan?
One class that I am obsessed with is contemporary halachic issues with Rav Kahn. Every class we go through different big debates in the world, and the class goes through the different opinions, and then we work through the halachic issues within it. It’s really cool to see the whole class debating one another and working through big ideas together before learning the sources inside, and realizing we were having the same debate the gedolim had so many centuries ago.
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?
I am really looking forward to Shavuot in Jerusalem with my program. I’ve heard it’s the best trip of the year, where we stay up all night learning and then walk to the Kotel for davening. I feel like it will be such a unique experience and I can’t wait to have it!