Today, my news became official: I was selected to lead a KESHER Birthright trip to Israel in February! As you may recall, I went on a Birthright trip as a participant in January of this year. Birthright is a partnership between various Israeli agencies & organizations that come together to fund free trips to Israel for Jews across the world ages 18-26. To date, Birthright reports that it has sent more than 250,000 young Jews to Israel through this program - and did I mention that it's free?
I never wanted to go to Israel. Like, literally, I had no interest. Having worked for a Jewish public policy organization, all I knew of Israel was politics - the conflict, the conflict, the conflict. I had no interest in being a part of that conversation, & I had even less interest in putting up with the "Never say a bad word about the Holy Land" view that so many Jews seem to hold. Israel, I maintained, was not for me.
Except that it was - and I had to be there to recognize that. Conflict aside, there is so much more. Israel is falafel & sunshine & history & mountains & democracy & marketplaces & architecture & countrysides & music & the ocean. Israel is more than the conflict that surrounds it. I came home refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated, all of those wonderful "re" words that indicate a shift in attitude & worldview. I came home happy.
And now, it's official: I get to do it all again, & even better, I get to help others go through it for the first time. I can't wait to help usher other young Jews through their inaugural experience in Israel, to help ensure that their trip is everything mine was & more. I can't wait to spend the day at the Dead Sea, atop Masada, wandering the shuks, to spend the nights in Bedouin tents & dancing in Tel Aviv. I can't wait to test my own leadership abilities, to serve as a role model, a friend & a guide to students who are just experiencing this magical place for the first time.
I can't wait. I can't wait. I can't wait.
Image from my friend Jen