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Meet the Girl behind the Instagram Account ‘The Asian Israeli’

March 7, 2019 at 8:21 am
by Birthright Israel Foundation
Amy in Israel years after her Birthright Israel trip

If you look at the first three-quarters of my life, you’ll probably agree that my journey to Israel is entirely unexpected. I grew up in Sacramento, California in a mixed family. One of my parents is Jewish, the other is Chinese, and they are both awesome, open, and loving. We celebrated Jewish and Christian holidays – Hanukkah and Passover, Christmas and Easter – all in a very secular way. We also celebrated Chinese New Year in a very American way.

Ironically, I didn’t start to really learn much about Judaism or feel any stronger connection to that part of my identity until I went to Catholic high school. Here I began to explore my spiritual identity and personal faith. I felt a growing interest in my Jewish roots, but I didn’t know what it meant or a lot about it.

Amy on Birthright Israel
Amy on her Birthright Israel trip in 2013

I went to college at Portland State University, where I began as a Graphic Design major. I say I began studying this because things changed my second year. The Jewish Federation brought Portland’s first Israeli Shaliach. Through this emissary, I discovered Israel for the first time. I always knew Israel was the Jewish country, but that was about it. I quickly discovered the good, the bad, and the ugly – and by that, I mean the beautiful culture, the history, and legacy of Zionism, and the movements to destroy Israel. I became obsessed and began learning as much as I could. I changed my major to make time to get a Judaic Studies minor.

The next step was obviously to visit, but how? I had never been to a foreign country before. I didn’t even have a passport! Baruch Hashem for Birthright Israel! When I found out my local Hillel sponsored a trip, I immediately cleared my summer schedule and signed up. I was finally going to get to touch, taste, and experience this place I had been learning so much about. I was so excited that I preemptively extended my trip for two-and-a-half months.

However, during those ten days on Birthright Israel, I connected to the land and the people. Moreover, having the opportunity to extend allowed me to spend endless hours in the sun, either soaking up the sea or walking from destination to destination to save a few shekels. I ate delicious food, visited museums and landmarks, and most importantly, interacted with the people. It’s the people of Israel that really made me fall in love.

Since that summer I went on Birthright, Israel has always played a huge hand in my major life decisions. Upon graduating from college, I thought about what I wanted to do next. The only answers I could find were pointing me eastward, so that’s where I went. I did a 5-month internship with Masa Israel Journey. After that, I decided that I wanted to be truly Israeli, so I made Aliyah.

I’ve been living here for the past four years. Throughout this time, I’ve learned Hebrew. I’ve discovered the rainbow of diversity that is the Jewish people. I’ve lived in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I’ve experienced times of war and times of peace. I’ve learned being an adult is difficult, and life is uncertain, but that I’ll always have the love of my life – Israel.

Birthright Israel alumna, Amy Albertson is the girl behind the Instagram account, @TheAsianIsraeli and the blog Amy & Israel: A Love Story. You can follow her to find out more about life in Israel when you’re half Asian. Plus, you can read more about her favorite brunch spots in Tel Aviv here.

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Amy in Israel years after her Birthright Israel trip