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Birthright Israel Helped Me Accept My Disability

July 16, 2019 at 8:52 am
by Aaron Kaufamn Birthright Israel Alumnus
Aaron on Birthright Israel

My No Limits Birthright Israel trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life! A person with a disability can often feel alone and isolated. I have Cerebral Palsy and this trip was so special because I met people who are going through the same challenges and have similar fears and anxieties as I did.

I realized for the first time that I am not alone and there are people like me. I had the most candid conversations I’ve ever had with friends on the bus because of similar experiences that we could share in a safe space.

Prior to my Birthright Israel experience, most of the interactions I had with others with disabilities were with individuals with intellectual disabilities. On No Limits, I met people on my intellectual level, which allowed me to build deep bonds with all 12 group members on the trip as well as the staff. Our Tour Educator, Omar Tzur, was a core part of our community. His father is a wheelchair user as he was wounded in the Yom Kippur War. Omar brought us to his family home to meet his father and learn about what it is like to be disabled in Israel. It was also very special to have opportunity to interact with Israeli military personnel who have disabilities.

This experience changed my outlook and helped me to accept my disability.

Highlights from Aaron's trip

The journey in Israel gave me a much greater appreciation and love for Israel than I had before. The visits to the Kotel, Yad Vashem, and Mt. Herzl were powerful. Given my physical limitations, the ability to bike and sail was exhilarating. It was just wonderful to see three of my friends have their B’nai Mitzvah at Masada and for me to be able to float in the Dead Sea. My visit to Israel highlighted the major bias the media has against Israel and today I have a much greater understanding of Israel’s daily struggle against terrorism.

After my No Limits Birthright Israel experience, I was motivated to work for the Jewish community. A few months after my time in Israel, I started a job with the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington, DC, where I lobby on disability issues. I love my work in the Jewish community as a disability advocate and find it deeply rewarding.

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