Young adults today live in a dramatically different world than those from the first Birthright Israel groups 19 years ago. Then, many participants got their first passport to embark on their journey…
Rediscovering My Jewish RootsAugust 22, 2019 at 8:17 am
Birthright Israel was a life-changing experience for me.
I found out about this opportunity by getting more involved with my Hillel branch at Florida International University. I had never been to Israel before, so when I learned it was essentially free, I jumped on it and signed up. I would recommend this trip to anyone who wants to connect with their faith and expand their mind spiritually, emotionally and socially.
One part of the trip that I will always remember is when we visited the Bedouin tents in the Negev desert. Riding camels was an awesome and special experience, but I will never forget the night that we went out into the middle of the Negev sand dunes to meditate with the stars. Sitting monk-style I felt completely at peace and felt like I was becoming one with the land and space. We also shared our innermost thoughts and opinions with one another in a group and enjoyed some delicious chicken pita with hummus (a common theme.)
My purpose for going on the trip was to re-discover my Jewish roots and beliefs after an extremely difficult period of losing a family member. It was a very unsettling period back home in Florida and I had always heard how important it is to touch base with your faith, your beliefs and most importantly, God. I was raised reformed Jewish. I feel like when you are younger, you don’t really appreciate what it means to be Jewish as much until you grow older and are confronted with some of life’s challenges. I ended up doing my Bar Mitzvah again and leaving a personal note at the Kotel. It felt distinct and refreshing to be the majority with the Jews in Israel and the way I would describe being present in the Holy Land is “déjà vu”.
My time with the Israeli soldiers also had a tremendous impact on me. It made me realize their level of dedication, hard work, and standards they need to uphold for Israel’s protection. The Jewish people are strong. Moreover, I built a special relationship with every one of the soldiers and travel partners that will always be there. I enjoyed being together with likeminded individuals and being unified with other Jewish people sharing the same culture. I have developed a lot of pride in what it means to be Jewish and had so many amazing memories that I will never forget. I think that this trip should become a staple for Jewish life in order to preserve our traditions, identity, and beliefs as a tribe. No doubt I will return.Blog Home