"I credit my Jewish communities - my Jewish day school, Camp Ramah, USY, my synagogue community, my friends, my family - with instilling in me nearly every value I hold. It was from these communities I was taught to care for my neighbor, to pursue justice and speak out when I see injustice, and that the value of a human life was more important than anything else. So when I first learned about the occupation - after nearly 18 years in Jewish education - I was stunned that my community seemed to be ignoring the very values they had ingrained in me. How were we caring for our neighbors when I hadn’t even heard of Palestinians? Where was the pursuit of justice, for a two-state solution, for self-determination? Where was the speaking out against injustice, against the daily horrors the occupation places on both Israelis and Palestinians? And where was the respect and value for all human lives? I’m honestly still stunned. Did they think that telling me about the occupation would make me turn on Israel? Did they think that understanding the occupation would make me love my Jewish community less? Did they think that I couldn’t handle the fact that Israel was not, as I was always told, a perfect country, a shining example of democracy for all under it’s rule? My Jewish educational communities taught me well - I can handle it. I am able to hold multiple truths, I am able to hear nuance and perspective, I can learn about the bad and hold it with the good and come to my own conclusions. Why didn’t I get that with Israel? -Camp Ramah, USY, Schechter alumn