Kesha Ram, a Vermont State Representative, recently visited Israel for the first time — but not on the kind of Israel trip most American legislators take. The 25 year old (who happens to be the youngest state legislator in the country right now) went on a free Taglit-Birthright Israel experience together with other people her age.
Ram, whose mother is of Eastern European Jewish background and whose father is an Indian Hindu, wrote in her application for the program: “In Jewish culture, my understanding is that if your mother is Jewish, you are considered Jewish. In Hindu culture, if your father is Hindu, you are considered Hindu. I have lived in both worlds and have gone to synagogue and temple; I have been to India three times, but I have never been to the sacred places of my Jewish ancestors. I would like to better understand Israel and my heritage for both my personal and professional knowledge.”
Arutz 7/Israel National News caught up with the elected official with long brown hair and olive skin as she checked out the scene on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem. “As an elected official it’s really wonderful to open my mind to what’s going on here, the political spectrum, how people live and interact. But as a young Jewish woman, this is my first opportunity to open my heart and my eyes to what’s going on here and what I can learn about who I am,” Ram said.
She also spoke about meeting artists and Kabbalists in Safed, and of the imperative for American elected officials to learn about their personal heritages and to share that knowledge with others they work with in government. Asked what she thought of Israelis her age, Ram responded that she was impressed by their seriousness, maturity and sense of service. She thought that this was an important model for young Americans, in terms of the importance of giving back to one’s country.