Birthright Israel is a program that sends Jewish youth ages 18-26 to Israel for free, in order to teach them about the country, their heritage, and about the Jewish religion. Each trip is different in regard to how religious it is, but they all visit several primary heritage sites, including: Masada, Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum), Mt. Hertzel (Soldiers’ Memorial & Cemetery), overnight in a Bedouin tent, meeting and traveling with Israeli nationals and several other awesome experiences.
Originally, I just registered for Birthright (along with my younger brother) in order to take a “free trip to Israel” and check out the land of our heritage. Neither of us are particularly connected to the Jewish religion, but we love to travel and haven’t ever been anywhere that we had a personal connection to.
Once on the trip and while traveling around seeing the amazing sights with my 32 trip-mates, I really began to appreciate the fact that my ancestors lived and died in this land – a place that before, to me, was just a place but now has so much meaning and personal significance.
I don’t want to wax too poetic here, so to keep this concise, I will say that even though I’m not converting to Orthodoxy anytimesoon, Birthright definitely changed my perspective on Judiasm. I am so glad that I took the trip and opened myself up to experiencing my heritage with 32 people who started as strangers and ended as my family and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
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