The Jewish Agency delegation to Mexico in which we participated - Orian, Dan, Avishag, Anat and I (Tal), was a special and very meaningful experience for me! It wasn't just another flight abroad and a trip to a foreign country, it was much more than that. The Jewish community that received us consisted of amazing people, who did not stop making sure that we enjoyed ourselves and had a good time, and saw to it that we had everything we needed. The ties we formed there were very strong and close, and I hope they will stay strong over time. We encountered a group of young people our own age, ninth graders from the Yavne Torah Ohr school, with whom we had corresponded by email until then, but as soon as we met with them we immediately bonded, and we had such good moments together that it was much more difficult to part than any of us had expected.
The Jewish community in Mexico is a very closed community. The Jews are scattered in their own schools, and do not mix with the other communities. We began the mornings there with prayers at the Yavne school, and then went on tours of Mexico with several pupils from the class and representatives of the mothers' committee. We visited the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, Chapultepec Castle, the Post Office Palace, the Opera House, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the historic center (the "Centro").
We took a Turibus and toured the city center, and went with the whole class on a cruise at Xochimilco ("Little Venice"). In the evenings, we would meet for social activities at the home of one of the teenagers. We were able to see the Spring Festival, which is an annual event held at the Deportivo, the Jewish sports center, in which all the Jewish communities of Mexico meet and each group presents a dance, and the older grades also compete. It's a very impressive event! We were also observers and guests at the Bible Quiz held at the Ramat Shalom synagogue.
This is a quiz in which representatives of pupils from Jewish schools in Mexico participate, and the winners go to the International Bible Quiz in Israel. We spent the weekends together, once at the home of Ariella, one of the pupils, and once at the home of the teacher Yaniv. We had Friday and Shabbat dinners together, prayed together and went to the synagogue.
Personally, I learned a lot about the Diaspora Jews on the visit, and in general, I opened up to Jewish communities in other countries. I think it's important for us to maintain the ties we formed there, not necessarily for us but also for their sake. It's important for them to know that they have friends here in Israel who will always be willing to help them. I think we can keep these ties by having as many meetings and joint activities as possible, and of course by mutual desire on both sides to continue the relationship by Internet, email, phone and the like.
In summary, I would like to say that this was an amazing experience for me that I will never forget, and of course, I would like to thank the Jewish Agency and everyone who helped make this delegation a success!