ConnecTech is a year-long fellowship for MIT and Technion Jewish students. The primary focus is on student interaction—creating personal bonds between small core groups of students at each institute and strengthening a sense of Jewish peoplehood. For more information or to read our Fellows’ bios, visit our website.

Hello! My name is Rachel and I am a first-year Ph.D. student in applied ocean science and engineering at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I hadn’t spent much time in Haifa before ConnecTech, but this city has won me over with its persistent ocean view—we certainly don’t get that in Boston!

Even though I have spent time in Israel before, ConnecTech has been full of newness for me: new city, new people and new ways of challenging my idea of what being a Jew means to me as a student in STEM. After a busy day visiting a center for at-risk families, the high-tech company Intel and a Reform Jewish high school, we met our Israeli friends at the beach for a poyke night (poyke is a rice dish slow-cooked in a cast-iron pot over a bonfire).

The familiarity of salty sea breeze and sand between my toes were a welcome break from all of the new experiences and learning that filled our day. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we chopped vegetables, sipped drinks and listened to Israeli music while our poyke cooked over the bonfire.

The most impactful experiences of this trip for me occur outside of the organized activities, when all of us, Americans and Israelis, get to hang out and learn more about each other. On this evening, it meant a lot to me to be able to mingle with my ConnecTech cohort with waves crashing behind us. The ocean is an important part of my identity, just as being Jewish is, and I enjoy the unique opportunity to engage with both of these parts of my identity when I am in Israel.

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