When I decided to take part in the Ulpaniada competition, going to Israel was only a dream. Two wins and one generous grant from the Alliance later, I was on my way.
The Ulpaniada competition is a program for Jewish high school girls. The program consists of math-logic tests, where strong math skills and much common sense are necessary to succeed. The first test, which is comprised of multiple choice questions, was open to all the girls in my school. Whoever passed that test continued on to the next level. This second test included some long-answer questions in addition to the multiple choice questions. Two girls from my school, Chana Devorah Peromsik and I, passed the second test and were invited to Israel for the final exam.
Fourteen American girls took part in the contest. We stayed at Michlala College in Jerusalem and went on numerous tiyulim (trips) around Israel. We went to the north of Israel and waded through an old aqueduct. We toured the Old City of Jerusalem from the rooftops and walked through the underground tunnels, where the foundation of the Kotel is visible. We explored the excavations in Ir David, the City of David, which dates from the First and Second Temple Eras.
Our group visited Machane Yehuda Shuk, the outdoor marketplace, where we tasted a wide range of Israeli foods, from chocolate techina to etrog juice.
The Ulpaniada event itself was a major highlight of my trip. The Israeli Minister for Education spoke at the event. There was a written exam and a hands-on mathematical puzzle. It was great to meet a variety of Jewish girls from many different places who all have a passion for math. Perhaps most of all, I appreciated having the opportunity to get to know my family in Israel. I feel privileged to have been able to spend time with my great-grandmother, whom I had not seen in a number of years, and was excited to have the opportunity to get to know my cousins in Israel, whom I rarely see.
I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Alliance and the Salmanson Foundation. If not for their generous grant, I would never have been able to go on this trip. I am thankful for this amazing experience that gave me my first trip to the Holy Land!
HADASSA TWERSKY is a student at the New England Academy of Torah. She enjoys academic challenges and jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Ulpaniada program. Her favorite subjects are math and literature.