Isn't it amazing how when you're young, your life is built around the idea of community? We have community at school with our classmates, community with sports and in my case community…
Community, Acceptance, and Self‑DiscoverySeptember 16, 2019 at 8:05 am
When most people hear the words “Birthright Israel,” they usually think “free trip,” and while Birthright Israel technically is a “free trip,” it is so much more than that.
Birthright Israel is a unique partnership between the Israeli government, various Jewish communities and Jewish philanthropists. The founders of Birthright Israel created this project to send hundreds of thousands of young Jewish adults to Israel as a gift, in order to connect with themselves, the Jewish people, Jewish history and their future. It goes beyond the camel rides, social events, touring and hiking. Birthright Israel allows young Jews to explore their heritage, homeland and identity in their own way. It is one of the most unique experiences someone could enjoy in their lifetime.
Israel itself is an advanced and dynamic country, and the only modern democratic nation in the Middle East in which citizens of all political beliefs are represented. Established as the national homeland for the Jewish people, Israel’s population includes Jews of every geographic, ethnic and religious identity. Over 75 percent of Israelis are Jewish-affiliated, coming from a widely diverse ethnic and cultural background and from all branches of Judaism. Additionally, Israel is home to many religious minorities, such as Christian, Islam and Baha’i faith, and guarantees each their right to practice freely and oversee their community life.
The advancement of women and diverse lifestyles are also significant to Israel. Since the founding of Israel in 1948, women have played a vital role in governing, developing and protecting the nation. Israel continues to lead the way in protection and acceptance of diverse lifestyles by being at the forefront of gay rights issues, prohibiting workplace discrimination, allowing openly homosexual soldiers to serve in the IDF and granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples.
Just like our homeland, Birthright Israel centers itself on community, acceptance, and self-discovery. The rich cultural diversity of our Jewish homeland encourages participants to completely be themselves and interpret the trip as their own, allowing everyone to make the most out of this special journey. The trip is designed to be all-inclusive, allowing every participant to feel a sense of safety and belonging. There is no right or wrong way to feel during the trip or after returning home. Along with the core themes of a classic Birthright Israel trip, niche trips allow participants to explore Israel through the lens of a specific field of interest, such as LGBTQ, culinary, arts and culture and more. Niche trips provide a platform that weaves together Jewish identity and professional interests.
Birthright Israel is a journey through Jewish history, the contemporary Jewish state and exploration of Jewish ideas and values. The Birthright Israel experience is committed to a culture of open discussion and dialogue about all issues including, but not limited to: identity, geopolitics, religion and Jewish life. The trip is designed to build a stronger, more connected and united Jewish future by exposing participants to an open and accepting platform. The Jewish future is bright and will continue to shine for generations to come.
QUOTES FROM PARTICIPANTS ABOUT COMMUNITY AND SELF-DISCOVERY
“It provided me with the opportunity to feel more connected to my Jewish roots, something I’ve never felt in the 29 years of my life, because I always felt like I wasn’t ‘Jewish enough’ and was on the outside looking in.”
– Holly G.
“The day I decided to go to the Orthodox men’s side of The Wall was so empowering for my identity as a trans man, a member of the LGBTQ community, and a member of the Jewish community. Without the amazing friends I made, I never would have been able to accomplish what I did that day.”
– Samuel B.
“[It] helped me realize how central my Jewish identity is to who I am while making amazing memories exploring the beautiful country of Israel with people just like me.”
– Sandra C.
“It encouraged me to think deeply, in a supportive environment, about what my Jewish identity means to me and how I can continue to develop my identity and sense of connection to other Jews.”
– Daniel from Leesburg, VA