An unscientific survey of my peers has revealed that many believe that life in the one-year Israeli yeshivot/seminaries is much easier now than it was back in our day.
First of all, no one could ever get in touch with us, because we had neither cell phones nor email accounts
But our communication issues were only part of the problem.
The main difference between now and then is that – as a whole – our generation seemed to have far fewer places to go for Shabbat.
I mean, sure, we all had a handful of obscure third-cousins-five-times-removed or a few so-called “old friends” of our parents, whom we had never even heard of before.
Ever-so-slightly exaggerated version of actual quote:
“You don’t know the X’s?! But Abba went to high school with Mr. X! And we got together with them once, oh, it must have been about 15 years ago. Remember? You were about two years old, and you played with their daughter? We’ve known them FOREVER! You really MUST call them. I’m sure they’ll LOVE to have to you for Shabbat!”
To this day, I still shudder when I recall a certain phone call to some elderly relatives (a”h) living in Haifa. The assimonim were dropping; the girls around me were motioning that I should get off the phone already; and I was literally shouting into the phone. I had to repeat everything about ten times, because the elderly relatives couldn’t hear me.
Ah, good times, good times…
But today - thanks to NBN, and also due to the fact that much of our generation spent those years in Israel and, as a result, was determined to make aliyah ourselves - rare is the American student who doesn’t have an assortment of aunts, uncles, grandparents, or very close family friends (whom the student actually knows…) living here in Israel.
Oh, and did I mention that when WE were here for the year, we had to trudge ten miles in the snow every single day?
As my kids would say, staaaam….