Did you know that 9 out of 10 people who travel with Birthright Israel rate their trip as great or “one of the best experiences of my life” Our past alumni love to tell us how much their 10-day adventure in Israel meant to them. But don’t just take our word for it, check out some of their inspiring stories below.
Last Wednesday I arrived to Logan airport at 6:30am. I was anxious, nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. I walked up to a group of 30+ strangers where no one really said much to each other. The only thing we had in common at this point is that we were all Jewish. By the end of day one, people started talking more and forming friendships. We did so much together, from morning till night, that by the end of day seven we felt almost like a family. So many laughs, memories and good times that I will never forget. So thankful that I got to meet every single one of them!
I went to Israel with only the mindset of, “cool a free trip”. When I was first told about Birthright, all I could think was, a 10 hour flight... no way can I do that, but I feel so good about overcoming that fear. I wasn’t really sure what I would get out of this trip or what it would mean to me. Growing up and even still to this day, people were mean. If I even mentioned that I was Jewish, they would have jokes and negative comments so therefore I kept that part of my life to myself. Spending a week in Israel really opened my mind. I did Shabbat (which is done every Friday night to Saturday). It is basically a time to unplug, not work and spend time with family and friends. I got to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Tel Aviv next to the ocean. I got to feel and experience the emotions at the Western Wall in Jerusalem (which was my favorite part). I saw photos and footage and also heard horrible stories about the Holocaust where 6 million Jews suffered and died. I saw and learned the way of life in Israel and how they will do anything to protect themselves, their loved ones and their country. Overall, I learned more about myself and my heritage. I feel so blessed to have experienced this and I’ve never felt more proud to be Jewish. Going on this trip was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As far as Israel, I loved it and I will definitely be back! ❤️🇮🇱
Some of my best memories in Israel live in the naked desert.
This image was taken near Eilat, just outside of the Kibbutz Lotan. Our guide, Brian Shapiro, led us out onto the dunes. The dunes had perfect, undisturbed waves that were destroyed with every step we took. 25 participants walked out at sunset and everyone took a partner, with one group of three. One partner was to close their eyes completely and be guided by the other to various spots in the vicinity. Once told to open their eyes, the person being guided would look for three seconds at the spot the guide chose. Then, they would shut their eyes and go to the next destination.
The guide chose the views based on what they found beautiful. The guided were only allowed three seconds to capture the image, like a photograph, and record it in their minds. The intention was to see and appreciate the beauty that someone else sees.
After the activity, we all found our own space in the quiet desert to watch the sunset on our own and appreciate the beauty we saw..
Thank you for the journey, y'all.
I have so many incredible Birthright Israel stories. From the wonderful madrichot who were incredibly helpful and understanding to the gorgeous sights and sounds and feeling of Israel. One of my absolute favorite stories is this picture. It was our last night of the trip, in Tel Aviv, and one of these girls’ birthdays. I met so many amazing people, but I found a niche with these 4. I learned so much about how other people connect to their Jewish-ness and I found out that the way I do, isn’t as odd as I thought it was. We are all different. We have different stories and beliefs and backgrounds. But in the end, we all ended up in Israel together at the same time. I sometimes struggle with making friends, but I found a 10-day home with these women. I loved Israel, but I wouldn’t have loved it as much without the friends I made along the way.
Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel overlooking the Dead Sea. The fortress’s stunning view harbors a sad irony, seeing as this historic place has been referred to as “a citadel of death.” The fortress was under siege by the Romans from 72 CE-73 CE, and rather than being captured and enslaved, 960 Sicarii Jews took their lives. Only two women and five children escaped the mass suicide. While the story of Masada is a sad one, it’s often viewed through the paradigm of being “a symbol of Jewish heroism.” The Jews were able to keep hold of Masada for almost three years, and even in the unfortunate circumstances of their untimely deaths, had the resources to continue surviving in the fortress. They wanted to live, but by their own accord and understanding of freedom.
My Birthright trip was absolutely incredible. I was able to meet and connect with so many people just like me, and also others that broadened my understanding of the world. For those crazy, jam-packed 10 days, I helped create a community that was excited, adventurous, and curious about every itinerary item we had in front of us. We sang, we laughed, and we cried. A lot. The hike to Masada was by far my favorite experience. This particular activity encapsulated every emotion I felt on the trip. With breath-taking views in every direction and an undeniable historic connection to the plight of Jews, I felt very inspired and connected to this place. The major themes I pulled from #mybirthrightisrael trip were remembering where you come from and rising up from the wrongs of the past. If I could do the whole thing over, I would in a heartbeat.
5 months ago, I took a life changing trip to Israel...once I came back from my journey, slowly, one by one everything that was concrete in my life began to shift and change. As I reflect on my trip, I remember that in the moment this photo was taken, I felt a connection that I had never before felt in my entire life. I am at one of the most ancient and holiest places in the world, leaning on a wall that has stood strong for over 2000 years. I am not religious. I don’t go to temple. I don’t pray. But here I am, tears filling my eyes, overcome with emotion. The hundreds of people that surround me have disappeared. It is just the wall and me. My ancestors and me. I think of the pain they suffered through, the battles they fought, the beliefs they died for and all of the obstacles that they overcame. Here I am 2000 years later. I exist because of them. I am touching the same wall that they have touched and prayed at. This wall represents something that lives inside of all of us, religious or not. It reminds me that we can fall, crumble, be burned, torn down, attacked... but we are RESILIENT. We can rebuild, heal, conquer and persevere. I feel this now, more than ever❤️❤️❤️