Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Everyone says do Birthright, go to Israel, it’s an amazing experience. It’s hard to believe something like this is possible, but it is. The past ten days have been some of the most amazing moments of my life. I got to see the Old City of Jerusalem. I got to pray for my friends and family at the Western Wall. I got to float in the Dead Sea. I got to visit Mt. Hertzel and hear the wonderful stories of the fallen soldiers who protected the land of the Jews. I experienced the history of the Holocaust in a way I’ve never done before. These are just a few of the incredible moments I had. This trip has also introduced me to so many new friends as well as introducing me to my history as a Jew in a new light. I’ve never felt more connected to my culture. I can easily sum up the last ten days in one word. Sababa!
Birthright was such an incredible experience. I was not raised in a particularly religious household, and the area I grew up in did not have a large Jewish population, but the culture and values were prevalent in my upbringing. This trip was an amazing opportunity for me to meet other students who share a similar connection to Judaism. Throughout our 10 days in Israel, we were able to experience together what makes Judaism so special: from seeing the Western Wall, learning about our history at Yad Vashem, to floating in the Dead Sea, to walking the streets of Sefad, to exploring Tel Aviv. Everyone was able to find a connection to their own Judaism.
Birthright was an absolutely amazing experience that I could not recommend enough to anyone who has yet to go. I’ve been to Israel once before, but that trip pales in comparison to Birthright. We all made so many new friends, saw incredible places, had new experiences, and got more in touch with our Jewish culture. To me, Old City Jerusalem was one of the most amazing places we went. The amount of history that has transpired all in one place is awe-inspiring. The most beautiful places we were lucky enough to see, in my opinion, were Masada, the Golan Heights, and the Kinerret. We really got to dive into Israeli culture during our free time. Being able to experience Tel Aviv, the Shuk in Jerusalem (day and night) on our own made it feel less like we were on a guided tour and more so just a part of the country. You’ll never see anything quite like it at home in the States. Another part of the trip that made it especially great was the Israeli soldiers who accompanied us. Who would’ve thought that we could all relate to, and become such close friends with our peers who grew up on the opposite side of the globe? Being able to experience Israel alongside Israelis our own age definitely added a lot to the trip and made the experience even more unforgettable. Not only that, but now we’ve all made so many new Jewish friends from our own school that we’ll be connected with for years to come. Start to finish, Birthright is one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have.
-A. J. Vail