Guy Peled: I remember back in my NFTY days in high school we would sing a song: “Wherever you go, there’s always someone Jewish. You’re never alone when you say you’re a Jew.” This was the first time I truly embraced my Jewish identity and realized that the commonality we all share with the connection to Israel and Judaism is a bond for life.
The next time I felt this deep connection to my roots and home (I was born in Haifa and moved to Massachusetts at the age of 7) was embarking on a Birthright trip at the end of my sophomore year of college. Even though I had traveled to Israel many times before this trip to visit family, it was nothing like the experience of being surrounded by like-minded people while immersed in a spiritual historical place where it all began with the Zionist movement back in 1897.
Fast-forward 18 years, and in about a week, I will be part of a wonderful group of Bostonians going to Nepal with Project Inspire. We come from all walks of life and are about to share an experience that could have the power to shape our perspective of Israel’s connection to the rest of the world and how we each can play an important role.
My motto for traveling has always been “expect the unexpected.” You never know if what is around the next corner, the next conversation or even a plan gone horribly wrong could lead to a moment in time you will cherish forever.
Next stop is Nepal, where I am excited to learn more about what Israeli NGOs are achieving through tikkun olam from both my own lens and from the perspective of others in my group and the Nepalese people. Shubha yatra! (“Bon voyage” in Nepali.)
Caroline London: Much like Guy, I have had several moments throughout my life when I have had the opportunity to fully envelop myself in the Jewish community and my own Jewish identity, from my first summer at camp, to my first trip to Israel and, of course, my Birthright trip.
When I moved to Boston five years ago, I joined the LEADS program, which quickly helped me find my own little Jewish community in the area. Members of my group became my close friends, and we still hold Shabbat dinners together every so often. Maybe it was because I felt I already had my own small Jewish community, or maybe it was simply because life has a way of distracting you sometimes, but for whatever reason, I realized I have recently taken a step back from the larger Boston Jewish community. As soon as I stepped into the room for our Project Inspire orientation, though, I was instantly reminded of what makes this community so special.
Right away, the group felt connected. While a few people know each other from past CJP events, for the most part, we were a group of strangers. And yet everyone naturally fell into familial conversations, discussing past travel adventures and playing the ever-popular Jewish geography game.
When I first heard about Project Inspire, I knew it was the right trip for me. I have been lucky enough to have visited most of the places on my travel “bucket list,” and now try to base my travel on opportunities that offer a unique perspective or immersive experiences. Project Inspire fits the bill perfectly. While I was initially most excited about seeing a new place and learning about a new culture while focusing on tikkun olam and Israel’s global reach, I am now so grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow with what is clearly a kind and compassionate group of people.
Only a few days until our Nepalese adventure begins! All that’s left to do now is pack!
Guy Peled was born in Haifa, Israel, and moved to Boston at the age of 7. He earned a master’s degree in international marketing from Suffolk University and is a manager on the regulatory reporting team at Fidelity Investments. Guy taught high school kids how to build a solar car as a volunteer for Citizen Schools, and periodically helps with cat adoptions. He also is a yogi who loves gardening, traveling and chilling with his two lovely cats.
Caroline London began her career as a costume designer after graduating from Syracuse University. Following her time working in New York City’s film and theater industry, she moved to Scotland to pursue her master’s degree in dress and textile history at the University of Glasgow. After completing her degree, she moved back to Boston, her hometown, and now manages internal communications for a global retail company. She continues to stay involved in the arts, running a fashion history blog that aims to make this niche subject accessible and relatable to the masses. Caroline has participated in CJP’s LEADS program and has also volunteered for Last Hope K9, a local dog rescue organization. Caroline is an avid traveler and is always looking to immerse herself in other cultures.