I’m so glad I had the chance to come back because Israel is my second home. The moment you walk off the plane you feel connected to it and every second I’m there I feel more and more connected to the land and the Jewish people. There is not a moment when I don’t think to myself how lucky I am to be there. This trip I just went on was more about Israel advocacy then site seeing, which make me more aware than ever how important it is to stand with Israel. Just going to the Kotel and seeing everyone pray and dance together is so inspiring. This time, I got a bracelet made for myself that said “My heart is in the East while I’m in the West” as a way of reminding myself each day how important Israel is to me. Now that I’m home, I’m brainstorming how I’m going to go back as soon as possible because I miss it so much already, and it hasn’t even been a week since I’ve returned home.
I have always known I was Jewish, and culturally that has always been very important to me. My Grandmother and Grandfather are both Holocaust survivors coming out of Auschwitz. Keeping the family heritage is something I always knew I wanted. However growing up and going to Synagogue was very difficult for me. I was not like the rest of kids because I have an Irish Catholic last name, my father converted but to my Temple that didn’t matter, I was an outcast. It’s a terrible thing, Jews against Jews, but that’s how it was. So as soon as my Bat Mitzvah was over I left my Synagogue never to return. I faced many hardships being Jewish growing up and I was very scared to tell people that I was a Jew knowing there was so much prejudice so I didn’t tell many people. It wasn’t until i got to college that I felt truly comfortable opening up about being Jewish. I felt very secure in the small Jewish community on campus, but I was still confused as to what my Jewish identity was, until I went on Birthright, it truly changed my life.
Just being in the land of Zion and breathing in Israels air I felt rejuvenated. I had many profound moments but there was one that embodies my whole experience. We were in the dessert, I had never seen so many stars, and one of our guides Itzik Yarkoni (who will forever be a dear friend) told us to look out at the dessert and see where our ancestors walked, see how far we have all come. I walked a little ways by myself and found a slightly raised bit of land. I stood on it and looked up at the sky and began to cry. I suddenly felt whole again, I knew in my heart that I was brought to this world to pass on the lineage of my family to my kids, and teach them where we came from. I didn’t feel alone anymore. I loved every moment of Israel the people I met, the places we went, the food we ate. Israel is like no other place in the world, it’s almost like we can feel God in every breath we take. Someday I will go back, hopefully with my family (when I’m married with kids) and I hope they will cherish the memories as I will. Thank you for an incredible experience! Everyone should go to Israel!!