Happy New Year Everyone!!
While we were still in South Florida I participated in Taglit Birthright, which is a (almost) free trip to Israel for about 10 days for Jewish young adults (18-26) whom have never been. I’m so glad I went and miss everyone dearly! (Happy one year friend-aversary IR33149!)
Mind you, I’ve been to Israel before in high school on TRY/USY High through Ramah (which I also loved and will wholeheartedly recommend to anyone still in high school or for their children). I’m lucky enough that Taglit Birthright changed the rules that if you went on a high school program but were there for less than 3 months you are still eligible to participate. I did the USY High portion of TRY (which I think has been renamed since but that’s what the shorter program was called then) that was only 2 months long so I could return to the US in time for exams and graduation.
Back to Birthright:
I went through Israel Experts on their Culinary Program for 21-26 year olds, so everyone on our trip loved food or worked with food in some way, shape, or form. Me personally, I had previously worked in the food/beverage/hospitality industry and was looking to get back in it. On my trip we had everyone from self-professed foodies and bloggers to personal chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, and sommeliers. We came from all sorts of Jewish backgrounds too. Some grew up religious, but most didn’t. Some had many Jewish friends, experiences, knowledge but not everyone did.
What I will say about the marvelous people I were with, including the Israeli soldiers on mifgash with us and our staff, that everyone was wholeheartedly themselves. We were very open and accepting of each other. Throughout our journey across Israel that is something we would bring up occasionally: how free we were to be ourselves and how positively it was accepted across the board. And it was beautiful.
For me personally, as someone who came from a decently strong Jewish background, it was occasionally difficult to remember that not everyone on the trip had even a foundation of Judaism to ground themselves it. But we all learned and grew together.
To this day we’re all still friends, talking on Facebook and planning meet ups. Unfortunately (for me at least) most of everyone is in the NY/NJ area or CA so those people get to hang out more, but I’ve managed to hang out with the few whom have trekked my way since we all started parting ways at Tel Aviv International Airport.
I plan on coming back to staff, and would have applied already, but I have since changed jobs, moved, and gotten engaged!!! So I think I should probably plan my wedding first and then come back to staff after all that planning is done. (Or who knows, I may change my mind and staff first, then get married. We’ll see!!)
In the mean time, I’d be happy to answer any questions about the trip and you can totally put me down as a reference if you choose to apply 😉
Shavuah tov l’kulam and see you on the flip side