Warning, the below Birthright Israel love story of Amanda and Nate will bring tears of joy…
Who knew a Birthright trip could lead to happily ever after? Not Amanda and Eric! Their story began amidst the sun-kissed landscapes of Israel, where a casual bus seat conversation blossomed into a love that would change their lives. Fast forward, and they’re now a Seattle-based family with two bouncing sons and a furry friend named Penny, all thanks to the transformative power of Birthright. This is how their Birthright Israel love story began!
Q&A with Birthright Israel Couple Amanda & Eric Rosen
What made you want to travel to Israel with Birthright Israel in the first place?
Amanda Rosen: “I was young, Jewish, and excited to go on an adventure. I chose an outdoor-centric trip as I’ve always been an active person, a runner. I was also wary of choosing a program that was too religious; I embrace our culture and tradition fully, but religious devoutness is less important. Birthright Israel is amazing because there are many options to suit varying personalities and identities.”
Eric Rosen: “I think it was mostly an opportunity for adventure. I had never traveled to another continent before and was excited to see another part of the world, especially one I had been learning about throughout my life.”
Did either of you think you’d meet your future partner on Birthright Israel?
Amanda Rosen: “Not at all! This was not even close to the top of my mind.”
Eric Rosen: “There is something really special about sharing an experience like Birthright Israel with a group of people. When you spend two straight weeks in a place so far from home and are memorable with people, you are sure to form a bond with them. I’m sure I expected to form some great friendships. However, the idea of marrying someone I met on the trip didn’t cross my mind before getting dropped off at the airport. I should mention that while we like to tell people we met in Israel, the truth is that we met at Newark Airport. I always smile going past that airport when driving along I-95.”
Can you pinpoint the one moment on the trip when you both knew you’d fallen in love?
Amanda Rosen: “In Israel, Eric became a friend to me; we fell in love when we got home. He drove from Connecticut to New York for my birthday and took me on our first real date! In Israel, though, I remember the point at which I knew he was special and meant a lot to me. We were on the bus, seated apart from each other. We had just finished an olive oil tasting and were off to the next stop. He stood up and yelled to me across the aisle about how much fun he was having. He asked me if I wanted to extend my trip with him, stay longer, and see more. At the time, I was a cautious and pretty sheltered person; I wondered, “Who is this kid? Do his parents let him do whatever he wants?” It turns out he was just an adventurous spirit like me. We didn’t end up staying, but that sort of ‘let’s do what we want’ attitude was exciting to me. Since that day, Eric has been the reason for countless trips and adventures I would not have had the confidence to embark upon without his encouragement. He pushed me to run my first half marathon, which led me to push him to run his first marathon. We’ve visited Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, and Iceland. We’ve attended music festivals across the country, gone cliff diving in Hawaii, surfed in Venice Beach (poorly!), and eventually….moved cross country and had two baby boys.”
Eric Rosen: “Amanda and I didn’t start dating until after our Birthright Israel trip. Nonetheless, I could tell right away that she was special from my ease of talking with her. My most memorable moments throughout the trip were those I spent with Amanda. Together, we rode a camel, went for a morning run through the desert, enjoyed Israeli food, hiked in the Golan Heights, and shared stories from across the bus aisle.”
What were your biggest takeaways from your Birthright Israel experiences outside of meeting each other?
Amanda Rosen: “This sounds sad, but it’s not. I learned what true happiness felt like. I thought I knew, but I didn’t. In Israel, for the first time, I was far from the things at home that can hold a person back or down. I felt I could be myself and was accepted by the wonderful group of people I was traveling with. I felt connected to Israel, the soldiers we met, and myself. I’d been “happy” before, of course, but this happiness came with a freedom I hadn’t encountered yet..”
Eric Rosen: “My biggest takeaway was knowing how welcoming the country of Israel and the people of Israel are to Jews from all over the world.”
What was it like to be with Israelis? Have you met Israelis before? What did you learn from them?
Amanda Rosen: “This was my first time meeting Israelis. I feel so incredibly lucky to have met the guides, soldiers, and security guards on our trip. I bonded with them just as deeply as the American friends on the trip. I made a lasting friendship with a soldier, too. We rode the bus side by side, and he taught me what it was like to grow up in Israel, be in the army, and love his country. He told me he loved watching the TV show FRIENDS. He and I are in touch today and speak often about the conflict abroad, his family, and our shared experiences on Birthright Israel. When October 7th happened, I sent his family gifts and words of support. By meeting Israelis, I learned what it is to be fiercely protective of a place and to have a warm heart, all at the same time.”
Eric Rosen: “I had a friend who was Israeli when I was in elementary school. However, meeting Israelis on our trip was still very special. We had an amazing Israeli guide who obviously taught us a lot, but it was the other Israelis who joined us on our trip that I think I learned the most from. Getting to explore their country while forming friendships with them allowed me to learn so much about their culture and the lives they lead.”
Do you two think Birthright Israel is an essential experience for young Jews?
Amanda Rosen: “Birthright Israel is incredibly important to young Jewish adults. Even if someone is skeptical, go. A connection to a place and a people cannot be taught. It is powerful to be among so many other Jews. I was used to being in a small minority. To be in a group like this was new and made me feel at peace. There were so many people, American and Israeli, to joke with about their quirky Jewish families, the best way to make latkes, the hurdles experienced as the only Jew in a room full of Christmas sweaters, and the sadness of carrying the impossible weight of generational trauma.”
Eric Rosen: “I absolutely do. The bond you form with Israel and the Israeli people after just two weeks is remarkable. It is a trip you never forget and one that changes who you are as a Jewish person.”
If you could meet the generous donor who made your trip possible, what do you two think you’d say to them?
Amanda Rosen: “Thank you for my children. They exist because of Israel. I only went there because of you.”
Eric Rosen: “I would obviously mention that I met my wife through Birthright Israel and thank them for bringing us together. I would also express to them how important I think Birthright Israel is in allowing Jews from the other side of the world to form a lifelong bond with the country and the people of Israel.”