Posted on Apr 02, 2019 by Brittany Carter

For one week, Ortal (Tuli) Mendelawe exposed 60 law students from her alma mater, University of Pennsylvania Law School, to her home country, Israel.

From March 3 to March 10, the group was bussed around the tiny country: from the Golan Heights on the northern border with Syria to the southern border with Gaza; from the holy cities of Nazareth and Jerusalem to the seat of Palestinian power, Ramallah; and from the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea, to her favorite place on earth, Tel Aviv. Tuli relayed upon her return: “Along the way, we learned about the country’s rich religious history, geography, geopolitical challenges, politics, legal system, societal issues, culture, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… We packed a lot in!”

The trip was made possible through a nonprofit organization called “iTrek,” that enables students from the world’s top Law, Policy, Business, and STEM programs to visit Israel and build their own curated week-long itineraries. Together with four current Penn Law students (pursuing JDs, LLM and SJD) as leaders of the trip, Tuli developed an itinerary that maximized education and fun, using their own diverse backgrounds and past experiences of Israel, i.e. being Israelis/Americans, Jewish/Muslim, secular/religious.

Highlights of the trip included meeting with politicians both on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, critically learning of the different views; touring the holy sites of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity in the Old City of Jerusalem and in Nazareth; touring the West Bank with a New York Times reporter; touring the Israeli Supreme Court and talking with its newest Justice, Alex Stein; learning from members of the Ethiopian, Bedouin, and Muslim-Israeli communities, as well as LGBTQ activists, about their experiences; and eating and dancing at some of Israel’s best restaurants and clubs.

Tuli summarized: “The experience was one I’ll never forget. I had an incredible opportunity to expose my colleagues to the complexities and wonders of my home country. I hope I can continue to build bridges between communities and participate in impactful pro-bono initiatives”.

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