Have you ever wanted to travel to another country, but just felt as though you didn’t have the money to do it? Are you a Jewish young adult between the ages of 18-26? If you answered yes to both of these questions, and have not been to Israel on a peer educational trip post 18 years of age, then you qualify for a FREE TRIP TO ISRAEL!
Birthright Israel, an educational organization that sponsors a free trip to Israel for Jewish youth (all over the world) between the ages 18-26, is funded by the Israeli government, Jewish organizations and communities, and private philanthropists. The trip takes participants on an incredible 10-day journey and encourages them to take time in the land of their ancestors to connect to their Jewish history and culture.
As a past participant on this amazing trip, I can honestly say that it is a life-changing experience. From hiking Masada (an ancient fortress), floating in the Dead Sea, visiting Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum), touching the Western Wall, and exploring the night life in Tel Aviv, Birthright provided me with a much deeper connection to my Jewish heritage and to the land of Israel.
It was incredible enough that I was given the opportunity to see so many historical sites that so many others are only able to hear about through their Hebrew School books. To be able to experience the trip with fellow UMass students, however, was a major benefit! It was such a wonderful feeling to be able to experience these sites and emotions with 39 other students of all different levels of observance who were also looking to return to their roots and reconnect to their Jewish identities. This one common bond allowed us to click so easily from day one, and gave us the foundation we needed to create lasting friendships.
The fact that the trip organizers of Birthright bring IDF soldiers to each group makes the trip even more special! While the land of Israel is noticeably different than that of the United States, the people of Israel are also very different. Because Israel is a highly targeted country and continues to be threatened by its neighbors, Israelis are drafted into the military at age 18. Coming from such a different place, it was absolutely amazing to meet Israelis my own age, and to hear their stories.
I learned so much from them and I am so thankful that I was able to have the opportunity to embark on such a fantastic journey. Three years later, I am still as close as can be to the friends I met on my trip. I fell in love with Israel on Birthright and have since returned twice and have plans to return again this coming December. I highly encourage anyone eligible to take a chance and have the adventure of a lifetime!