Birthright Israel Registration Is Now Open! Register TODAY!
Birthright Israel registration is now open! There are a number of incredible, meaningful and fun trips to Israel for #Angelenos to go the LA Way, and we want to make sure you know about how life-changing a Birthright Israel trip can be! From Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the Negev to the North, the opportunity to experience Israel and form lifelong friendships is one you don’t want to miss!
We interviewed Josh, a recent LA Way Birthright Israel participant, about why he decided to travel to Israel with the Federation on Birthright Israel, and how the experience impacted him.
Why did you go on Birthright Israel?
“I went on Birthright because, though I had never been particularly religious, I always knew I wanted to visit Israel. My father lived there for a little while when he was a teenager and, to this day, he has fond memories of working on a kibbutz in a place he always told me was one of the most beautiful and unique countries on earth. When my friends went, they routinely came back telling me it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which only furthered my interest. After getting out of the American military at 22, I took the opportunity during my first free summer to go on Birthright.”
How did the experience impact you?
“I was extremely excited to go, but even I couldn’t have anticipated just how much the experience would affect me. As a Jew, living in the United States is a blessing, at least where I’ve been lucky enough to live. I’ve never experienced outright anti-Semitism or been made to feel unwelcome because of my background. I’ve gotten all kinds of questions about my traditions my entire life. To go to Israel for the first time and truly feel like I was amongst ‘my people’ was incredibly powerful. Never in my life have I been somewhere KNOWING in my heart I would return. As soon as I left Israel, I knew I had to go back someday.”
What was your favorite moment of the trip?
“It’s hard to pick just one, but certainly the most impactful moment was visiting the Western Wall. Placing my head on those stones, thinking about the generations of my Jewish ancestors who had only dreamed of visiting this holy place, thinking about every year of my childhood saying ‘next year in Jerusalem’ [on Passover] only to finally be in that mythical place, was incredibly overwhelming.”
What would you say to someone who is thinking about going?
“If you’re on the fence, for whatever reason, just know that you will NOT regret making the choice to go. I have friends who missed the age cutoff, and every time I bring up my trip or any time Israel comes up in conversation, they all say the same thing: ‘I WISH I had….’. In direct contrast, every Birthright participant I’ve encountered has said ‘Wasn’t it amazing?’ to which I can reply, completely truthfully, that yes, it was, and I can’t wait to go back.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles is a proud partner of Birthright Israel and runs LA Way community trips for young Angelenos between the ages of 18 and 26. The Federation offers nearly 20 trips each year through four approved Trip Organizers: IsraelExperts, Israel Outdoors, Amazing Israel, and Hillel International.
For more information, check out our website, www.JewishLA.org/Birthright or contact us at (323) 761-8214 or BirthrightLA@JewishLA.org.
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