In Their Own Words – Sohaila

Posted on January 24, 2023

For Sohaila Rafael (r.), a freshman at Crossroads College Preparatory School in St. Louis, MO, the highlight of the mission was reconnecting to Judaism in a real – and lasting – way.

“The whole trip really impacted me… All of the conversations and [the Shabbat] services and the volunteering,” she says. “We’d come back and talk about our experiences, and how it felt, and what impact we were making, and this helped me wrap my mind around being Jewish.”

Sohaila attended a Jewish community school until second grade but has been in public school ever since. She also never had the opportunity to go to Jewish camp.

She says the immersive style of the 5-day trip gave her a “deeper appreciation and understanding of my Judaism.”

And she has already brought that inspiration home. This weekend – Sohaila’s first since the mission – she asked her parents to celebrate Shabbat, something she hadn’t done since she was 5 years old. And they agreed.

“I’ve always wanted to be more observant in my Judaism,” she says. “The trip was an amazing experience and [now] I want to do more.”