Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends
“Living in Jerusalem Was an Unforgettable Experience”: A Study Abroad Travelogue
Rabbi Ronald Kronish ’68, P’99, describes studying in Jerusalem in 1966 in the months before the Six Day War, as part of a series marking the 60th anniversary of Study Abroad at Brandeis.
I participated in the Hiatt Institute in Jerusalem during the fall semester of 1966. This was a one-semester study program run by Brandeis in Israel for many years. We studied with excellent professors from the Hebrew University. My favorite course was one on Modern Jewish History, which I have never forgotten. We read the book by Howard Sachar, son of Brandeis president Abram Sachar, on this subject from cover to cover!
I fell in love with Jerusalem. It was a divided Jerusalem at that time, six to 10 months before the Six Day War of June 1967, but it was quiet, peaceful and beautiful. I learned to love the smells and sights of Jerusalem. It was an unforgettable experience. Living in Jerusalem during the fall of 1966 was very special.
We lived in a quaint, small hotel in the heart of Rehavia, one of Jerusalem's most beautiful neighborhoods. I can still remember the smells of the trees from that neighborhood. We did walking tours all over Jerusalem, which was a divided city at that time. I remember vividly going up to Mount Zion and looking across the way to see the guns of Jordanian soldiers in buildings very close to us. It was somewhat strange to live in a divided city, with a wall going through it, but it was the way Jerusalem was back then. We also traveled all over Israel, on carefully-guided study tours, in which we learned not only Jewish and Israeli history but we grew to appreciate the beauty and spirituality of the land of Israel.
Twelve years later, in 1979, I made aliyah (moved) to Israel with my wife, Amy (Weiss), whom I met during my senior year at Brandeis, 1967-68. After graduation in June 1968, Amy and I spent the summer in Israel and fell in love with the country.
It was the beginning of a journey for us. In 1970-71, we studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, while I was studying to be a rabbi, and our attachment to our Jewish homeland grew. We have lived in Jerusalem ever since, raised our family here and remain committed to living here. My experience with the Hiatt Institute in Jerusalem in the fall of 1966 was one of the pivotal study experiences of my life.