Birthright was the best experience, hands down, that I have ever had in my life. For those who don’t know what Birthright is, you came to the right person and the right article. Birthright is basically a free trip to Israel for Jewish teenagers. Yup. You read that right, FREE trip to Israel. I remember the day my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Israel. She said to me, “If you had the chance to go to Israel, would you go?” You already know my answer. That’s when she hit me with the magic words, “Okay, you’re going next summer and, by the way, it’s free.” You can imagine my face when she said that. I wanted to go on the trip, not only because it’s free but also to connect with my homeland, to connect with my religion, my beliefs, my people and to create stories to later tell my children. I wanted to feel the experience of being in a magical place, like Israel.
When it was time for the trip, I went with amazing people that I had the pleasure of growing up with. Trips are organized by different organizations and companies that are accredited by the Taglit-Birthright Israel (Taglit being the Hebrew word for discovery). The trip that I went on was with my Hebrew school back home. All groups are led by licensed Israeli tour guides that accompany you everywhere. Tours may vary according to age group and religious backgrounds of the participants.
My trip consisted of visiting Israel for a period of almost two months. I got to see everything Israel had to offer: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Eilat, the Dead Sea, the Western Wall and the Israeli army. One time we had to be part of the army for a full week. Not only did I get a chance to fire a M-19 rifle, but I got to experience the glory and pride of protecting my home, my country. We had the full experience of day-to-day soldier. We had to sleep in tents, girls and boys separated, we had to share bathrooms with other girls that were on Birthright, and we had to help in the kitchen, clean the bathroom and other tasks. We grew closer together as family and friends, and this became a part of our lives that we will forever cherish.
The time I went through Birthright to Israel was the best experience I could ever have. I never thought I would have an opportunity like this one. I will forever carry this in my heart, and I will teach my children about the beauty of our home country, doing everything I can so they get the same experience I did.
Photo: S. Crombach