The trip came and went in the blink of an eye. We had gone white water rafting in the Jordan River, camping in the Negev, and floating in the Dead Sea, and everything in between. I had finally had the “touristy” experience of Israel that I had longed for and even made friendships that I still have today. However, perhaps the most rewarding aspect of my trip was the dynamic between the staff and the group.
Many of the people on the trip had little or no sense of Jewish identity, and even fewer had any formal Jewish education. My staff, however, were all religious modern orthodox. This made for an incredibly interesting clash of religious and generational polar opposites: the pious met the secular; white collars and wigs met tank tops and shorts, promiscuity and casual hook-ups met shomrei negia. I, not being very observant, but having studied Judaism for many years, found myself being pulled in by two worlds colliding. I learned a great deal about myself on Birthright. I completely changed my outlook on some things, and strengthened my opinions on other things. I don’t believe one person, group-member or staff, left that trip unchanged. It was an experience I would recommend to anyone.