Arts & Culture, People

My Israel Story #28- Tandameshia “Kensi” Hastings

by JCPConnect-
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We’re marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel with a year-long celebration! Keep an eye out for “Memphis Celebrates Israel at 70” branding at your synagogue, at events around town, and online. In this series, we’re asking Memphians to tell their personal Israel stories. Do you have a story to tell? 

 

Hints of Israel in My Everyday Life

At the beginning of this year, I was blessed to visit Israel with Birthright Israel along with about 40 other young Jewish adults. While the opportunity made for a pretty intriguing venture throughout the country, I find that since being back in the States, I continue to find small hints of Israel in my everyday life.

In particular, the technology innovated in Israel is astonishing, and several of Israel’s technological innovations seem to continuously seep into facets of my everyday life. For example, Waze is an app that always connects me to Israel as I use it to navigate through Memphis.

But to me, the Iron Dome was the most impressive form of technology that I learned about while at Birthright Israel’s Innovation Center.

After I watched Rock in the Red Zone, a documentary of life in Sderot – a city by the border of Gaza that is significantly impacted by the rockets from Gaza – it was proven to me just how important the Iron Dome is as a defense mechanism for Israel. The film really connects with and engages its viewers by telling the story of those in Sderot while introducing the audience to Israeli music.

The passion as well as the pain captured in the lyrics of the artists featured in the film illuminate the dreams, fears, hopes, and the lack thereof, of the people of Sderot. The film also reminded me of the importance of having a well-maintained military, allies, and protected borders, all to ensure that the citizens of a nation get to enjoy the fruits of democracy. These are things that many in the United States take for granted.

On a much lighter but still vital note, the Iron Dome found its way back into my life in the States via media entertainment through The Blacklist and one of its supporting characters, Samar Navabi, a Mossad agent working for the FBI. One episode that aired shortly after my return from the trip featured an adversary group, the NMB, that wished to bypass Israel’s Iron Dome. In the end, the NMB was thwarted. Yet the most interesting part of this storyline is Navabi’s backstory and how she ended up joining Israel’s intelligence agency.

Navabi’s role sheds light on the complications of not only her position in relation to other characters in the show, but also that of politics in the Middle East. From my interest in and fascination with the Iron Dome, I was connected to Israel from home and inspired to research the Mossad. (Hints of Israel can be found in all facets of life.)

In addition to that, Israel’s advances in cybersecurity also intrigued me while at the Innovation Center. In case you haven’t picked up on it, I am a techie! I love technology. I am also an entrepreneur breaking into the entertainment industry, which might indicate why part of this essay focused on The Blacklist.

Another gem that hints at Israel is located right here in Memphis! It’s one of its major streets – Mt. Moriah Road. That both the First Temple and the Second Temple were built on Mt. Moriah astounds me. The history enveloped in and at Mt. Moriah, including that of the Kotel, will always be remembered when I am driving down Mt. Moriah Road.

As I said, traces and hints of Israel are all around us – we just have to be still and seek them out.

 

The Lemsky Endowment Fund of Memphis Jewish Federation offers grants for teens and young adults to participate in educational programs in Israel. Learn more on the JCP website

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