Next Year in Israel

Sarah Bridgeton
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By – February 14, 2014

Every year at the end of the Passover Seder, Jews promise to do it Next Year in Jerusalem,” remind­ing us of our ties, wher­ev­er we are, to our eth­nic home­land, the birth­place of our peo­ple. Few fol­low up on it, com­fort­able in the Dias­po­ra, entrenched with jobs, friends, and prop­er­ty. But for teenag­er Rebec­ca Levine, the pro­tag­o­nist of Next Year in Israel, leav­ing her birth­place is a pret­ty easy task as she has been taunt­ed and bul­lied in her sub­ur­ban Boston school for years. A high school study abroad pro­gram offers an out for Rebec­ca after she sur­vives a sui­cide attempt. Rebec­ca is eager to put her past behind her and carve a new iden­ti­ty abroad. At the program’s youth vil­lage she refers to with the Hebrew word kfar, she builds new bonds with the oth­er pro­gram par­tic­i­pants. The relation­ships are fraught with the ques­tion of who is a true friend. She also ago­nizes over whether she is real­ly a los­er like her class­mates in Boston told her or is it pos­si­ble that she is a like­able per­son. In Israel, she learns Hebrew, Jew­ish cul­ture and prayers as she has not been reli­gious. She forges a new iden­ti­ty as a good friend and earns the inter­est of var­i­ous boys. Rebec­ca is haunt­ed by her past, even as she has pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences in Israel. She grows beyond that and, by the end of the year, she is ready to go back to her home. Read­ers can find out how she fares in the bonus short sto­ry This Year At Home. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 13 and up.

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