Monday, January 31, 2011

From Homeland to Hometown: Assessing the Impact

This is the first time I've even attempted to write about the life-altering experience that was my Taglit Birthright trip to Israel. It seems so cliche, doesn't it? To say that it was life-altering. That's what everyone says! And what does that even mean? What changes have I made? Am I someone different? The truth is that I came home & felt much the same, despite promises to myself that post-Israel Kate would be a new & better woman. Yet here I am, doing all the same things & making all the same decisions.

But still, I feel different, in ways I can't yet comprehend or explain. When I think about it or try to put it to words, I'm overcome by emotion & stopped short. The words will come - they always do - but for now, it's just a feeling, a feeling that I am not the same was I was before, even if, for practical purposes, I am.

I climbed Masada at sunrise. I rode a camel in the Negev. I walked the streets where Roman carriages once traveled. I stared up at the stars from the middle of a desert. I slept in a Bedouin tent with four dozen strangers. I looked out over the Gaza Strip & into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I ate falafel stuffed with french fries. I toured a seaside cemetery in the dark. I visited the Supreme Court of Justice, where Israeli law is decided. I floated in the Dead Sea covered in mud. I played in a waterfall. I ate Yemeni food in the Kabbalah capital. I partied hard in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I fell in love with 50 strangers.

Everyone I know said I was going on the trip too late, that I should have visited Israel long ago. And while I don't believe that things happen for a reason, I do believe that there's always a lesson to be learned. In this case, I may have gone too late, but it turned out to be precisely the right time: I needed to visited Israel with these people, my beshert, my homeland soulmates. Together, we took the trip of a lifetime & turned it into the experience of a lifetime.

We are all changed, & I bet that most of us can't tell you how. But we are. Changed & thankful.

21 comments:

Good Girl Gone Blog said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed Israel! We'll have to go back together :)

Magdalena said...

nice to read this! I went to Israel in 2007--this brought back a lot of memories for me.

Becky said...

So glad you're back and happy for your experience - whatever that might entail.

San said...

What an adventure! What a trip! I can't wait to hear more about you... I hope your words will come, soon!! :)

sameve said...

I'm so glad you loved Israel! I don't know who told you that you were going too late, but they were wrong. It's never too late, and what's important is that you had a meaningful experience. I can't wait to hear more about it!

Jackie said...

so glad you had such an amazing trip!

Lorraine said...

So nicely written, even if all the words haven't gotten there yet. :)

Lor

Jaclyn said...

Lovely! I i'viewed a young man about a Birthright trip before. After picking his brain for an hour or two, I left the house thinking, "Dang. I wanna be Jewish."

steph anne said...

Sounds like fun! I'd love to see a picture of you riding a camel. ;)

Stephany said...

It sounds like you had an amazing trip. I can't wait to hear more about it, but I imagine it will take some time for the words to form.

Home Sweet Sarah said...

Weird how Israel does that to you, huh?

SO GLAD you got to go! It's my favorite place on earth, no lie.

terra said...

Many of my Jewish friends have said much the same thing about their travels to Israel. They can't place it, but they're different, somehow. I'm so glad you got the change to go and that it was an amazing adventure!!

me in millions said...

I'm glad you had a good time. DC has such a vibrant Jewish young professionals community. You should totally get involved!

Sandy a la Mode said...

im glad you had such a good time!! that's soo awesome you got to go!

Stefanie said...

That sounds like the most fabulous and amazing adventure ever! Glad you had such a great time and hopefully we'll get to read more about it. :)

emmysuh said...

Ahh, I am not even Jewish but this trip sounds amaaaazing. I can't wait to hear more about your experiences and feelings and PICTURES.

Hermia said...

Sounded like an amazing trip! I can well believe you feel changed on some level!

Chaviva G. said...

I think if anything, it makes you feel apart of something so much huger than yourself. Something with variety and beauty and worldliness and love and peoplehood. And I'm so glad you went. So, so, so glad :) *hugs*

skinny_dip said...

I feel like all trips change you in some way. Even whenever I take a trip back home, I'm never sure how it will change me but, I always come back feeling differently and with a new perspective. I think that's what makes traveling so exciting. I'm so happy for you that you got to have this experience. :)

allison said...

My friend took this trip in college. Her pictures were amazing and I would love to go there with her.

Citygirlblogs said...

Not surprised that it was life-altering! Happy that it was the right time for you to take this trip!

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