categoryBirthright Israel Alumni

A Jewish Identity Centuries in the Making

by Alejandro Mansbach • Washington, DC December 31, 2019 at 8:58 am

A Jewish Identity Centuries in the Making

by Alejandro Mansbach • Washington, DC December 31, 2019 at 8:58 am

We want to take you back in time to the 15th century. Imagine a small village in Spain, with stone pathways, the smell of Pescado Frito coming from the windows on Friday afternoons and Ladino was spoken on the street corner. This was probably daily life for the Jews of Spain centuries ago, that was until they were forced to convert or flee. Read More

Finding My Place and My Voice

by Cole Keister • Portland, OR December 30, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Finding My Place and My Voice

by Cole Keister • Portland, OR December 30, 2019 at 4:57 pm

Where I grew up in rural Oregon people denied the Holocaust. I experienced a lot of antisemitism from people who really had never met Jewish people. I don’t identify as being religious, but being Jewish is an important part of who I am. I remember that starting around when I was just about 7, other kids would tell me I was going to hell for being Jewish, I would be gifted the bible or asked to come to church so that I could be “saved”, and I became very aware that I was different. “…I would be gifted the bible or asked to come to church so that I could be “saved”, and I became very aware that I was different.” When I got to Middle School the antisemitism became more intense, I was called a kike, a dirty Jew, swastikas would show up on my things, and again every day I was reminded I was different for being Jewish. Read More

Birthright Israel, Day by Day

by Eren Niederhoffer • Atlanta, GA December 28, 2019 at 8:56 am

Birthright Israel, Day by Day

by Eren Niederhoffer • Atlanta, GA December 28, 2019 at 8:56 am

Nine years ago, Eren Niederhoffer of Atlanta, GA, met 15 other people who also have Autism as he boarded a 747 to Israel. He had the pleasure to highlight pivotal moments on Birthright Israel in an article in The Jewish Georgian in 2011. However, most importantly, in the years to come after his Birthright Israel trip, Eren’s experience will never leave him. Read More

Young Leadership Spotlight: Corey Dicker

by Corey Dicker • New York, NY December 24, 2019 at 10:01 am

Young Leadership Spotlight: Corey Dicker

by Corey Dicker • New York, NY December 24, 2019 at 10:01 am

Judaism has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Englewood, New Jersey and attended a Jewish day school my entire life. The significance of Israel was something I’ve been learning about since first grade and my family and many childhood friends travelled to Israel with their families at least once before college. Read More

Reunited After 10 Years Because of a Craving for Falafel

by Alix Roberts • Dallas, TX December 18, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Reunited After 10 Years Because of a Craving for Falafel

by Alix Roberts • Dallas, TX December 18, 2019 at 9:09 pm

Walking on the streets of Tel Aviv a few months ago on my way to get the best falafel in the city at HaKosem, I noticed a familiar face. A woman was picking something up off the street. Something about her seemed so familiar. Her face took me back nearly 10 years ago to my Birthright Israel trip. Read More

Birthright Israel Gave Me the Confidence to Explore My Judaism

by Rachel Abramov • Hewlett, NY December 18, 2019 at 8:36 am

Birthright Israel Gave Me the Confidence to Explore My Judaism

by Rachel Abramov • Hewlett, NY December 18, 2019 at 8:36 am

I was raised in a Jewish family that was more traditional in our practice of Judaism. Only when I turned 12, I felt a spark and became more interested in Jewish learning and the religious aspects I had been missing. Eager to explore Israel as I learned more about Judaism, I set out for my Birthright Israel trip right after my first year of college together with several of my cousins and friends. “To the generous supporters of Birthright Israel, I want to say thank you very much for allowing me to claim this gift. Read More

Birthright Israel is Life-Changing and I’ll Keep Saying It

by Courtney Simmons Demri • South Florida December 16, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Birthright Israel is Life-Changing and I’ll Keep Saying It

by Courtney Simmons Demri • South Florida December 16, 2019 at 3:39 pm

To start, Birthright Israel changed my life. It has changed my life spiritually, mentally, romantically (which you will hear about later). I want to leave you with suspense! When I am asked to share my Birthright Israel story, it’s difficult to decide where to begin because my experience has provided me with so many different outlets and avenues that impacted my life for the better. Read More

Alumni Profile: Marissa Schwartz

by Birthright Israel Foundation December 12, 2019 at 9:18 pm

Alumni Profile: Marissa Schwartz

by Birthright Israel Foundation December 12, 2019 at 9:18 pm

In 2009, Marissa Schwartz took advantage of the gift of Birthright Israel through the Chabad of Dartmouth with close friend Jenna Pfeffer. Years later, thanks to her firsthand experience of the country and culture, she is now Director of Business Development for My Israel’s Miracle, a haircare line featuring organic ingredients from Israel with a goal to share great things about Israel. Read More

Birthright Israel Love Story: Carly and Alex Vargas

by Carly & Alex Vargas • Boston, MA December 3, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Birthright Israel Love Story: Carly and Alex Vargas

by Carly & Alex Vargas • Boston, MA December 3, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Carly Rapaport and Alex Vargas met on their Birthright Israel trip back in the summer of 2014. Although they lived under 6 miles from each other in Boston at the time, they didn’t meet until their trip when they were over 5,000 miles from home! Carly explains, “Alex had wanted to go on a Birthright Israel trip for years, but he just couldn’t find the right time. Read More

Birthright Israel Was My First Taste Of True Community

by Kyla Sokoll-Ward • San Francisco, CA December 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm
Kyla Sokoll-Ward on the beach in Israel in 2011

Birthright Israel Was My First Taste Of True Community

by Kyla Sokoll-Ward • San Francisco, CA December 2, 2019 at 10:31 pm

I went on my Birthright Israel trip in 2011 at the ripe age of 19. Like many participants in this demographic, I was excited about the experience (who doesn’t love the rare gift of free travel?) and eager to explore my Jewish identity more. My Jewish upbringing wasn’t atypical for an American Jew; I went to synagogue on the high holidays, I went to Sunday school, I had a Bat Mitzvah, and I complained about all of it. Read More