“I did not apply for the Birthright Israel trip on a whim. A colleague of mine had taken the trip during the summer of 2012, and I heard nothing but great things about his experience. He came back from Israel with a connection to the country and community that he couldn’t fully describe, and I longed for that same feeling.
To say I was excited for this experience would be an extreme understatement. I was ecstatic… and I tried to prepare for it all. I pictured what it would be like to walk through the markets and sleep in a Bedouin tent. I knew I wanted to see the Golan Heights, Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem for myself.
The only thing I did not anticipate, and could not prepare for, was the connection I made with the people of Israel. I never felt out of place, and I was never treated as a stranger. To them, I was a long-lost friend that found her way home.
This trip brought me closer to my people. It brought me home. And, for the first time, it made me complete. Because of this trip, I am more committed to Judaism than I have ever been. I have committed myself to the Jewish community and faith “to continue in the steps of my grandmother, great-grandmother, and those before them, and to raise my children Jewish. Israel became my second home, and I will always love and defend it and its people.”