In this week’s edition of What Alumni Are Saying we’re hearing from participants from New Jersey. Since Birthright Israel’s inception, 72,305 young Jewish adults from New Jersey have received this life-changing gift.…
A Match Made in Israel: Ian & MackenzieSeptember 1, 2018 at 8:30 am
For Ian Persits and Mackenzie Samet, Birthright Israel was much more than a free trip—it was where their love story began. Although both from New York, the two of them were brought up in very different homes. Ian was born and raised in Brooklyn in a Russian-Jewish household. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1975 to build a better life for their children. Mackenzie on the other hand is a native of Westchester. She believes that without Birthright Israel, it’s likely that the two of them would have never crossed paths.
“It was almost fate that we met” says Mackenzie. Prior to going on the trip, the two of them had both been unsure about traveling to Israel. Neither of them had ever traveled so far and they had no idea what to expect. Mackenzie had been scared to go for a while and cancelled the first trip she was signed up for. Similarly, Ian had cancelled twice before actually building up the courage to go. But as we know, timing is everything, and in the winter of 2014, both Mackenzie and Ian finally overcame their fears and wound up on the same trip.
Mackenzie explains that her expectations were exceeded beyond her wildest imagination. “I expected to see the beautiful Dead Sea, hike through amazing mountains, and learn more about my culture. I never expected to connect to people so deeply and meet the love of my life.” Mackenzie continues, saying that she hadn’t expected to meet friends, let alone a boyfriend (now fiancé)! She says that the trip builds great relationships and brings everybody extremely close together.
In the mere 10 days of their trip, Mackenzie and Ian grew inseparable and connected on such a deep level. Mackenzie tells us, “I don’t know if it is the spiritual connection you develop when learning about your Jewish history, the fun group activities, or the connection to Judaism that grows by the end of the trip, but by the end of this journey I knew more about Ian than any guy I have ever dated before. The fact that we had so much in common and somehow got on the same trip, was destiny.”
“Birthright Israel was the greatest trip of our lives and we can’t wait to go back for another special experience.”