You may have heard us say this before: Birthright Israel is strengthening the Jewish future. But…
As a third-year law student at the University of Florida, I am constantly facing existential crises. Why am I here? What career path is best for me? What will my future be?
But amidst the swirling doubts, one desire shines brightly: the yearning to help my Jewish community and make a difference in our world.
Law school seemed like the gateway to that goal, but it wasn’t until my Birthright Israel trip and Onward internship in 2019 that I realized the path to making a mark stretches far beyond any specific career. Clichéd as it may sound, I never truly understood the power of unconditional acceptance, love, and belonging until landing in Tel Aviv with 40 strangers who instantly transformed into family.
The profound impact of that journey propelled me to volunteer as a Birthright staffer in 2022. I worried the experience might not match the magic of being a participant, but I was wrong! This leadership role allowed me to weave my past Birthright experiences and values into enriching, educating, and inspiring my fellow Jewish peers. What better legacy could a young Jewish woman leave than fostering connections and igniting passion in others?
My Birthright experiences didn’t just illuminate my personal purpose; it highlighted the responsibilities of my generation. Visiting Yad Vashem served as a stark reminder of our duty to keep the Holocaust flame of remembrance alive, especially for me, as the great-grandchild of four survivors.
The trips’ Jewish identity programming instilled in us the importance of upholding our values and standing up for our heritage. Moreover, Birthright offered a safe haven to celebrate our heritage and embrace our homeland, especially during times of rising antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
Sharing experiences with Israeli soldiers, known as the Mifgash, further shaped my perspective on my identity and connection to Israel. Witnessing their unwavering dedication and sacrifices for Israel, many younger than myself, was humbling and inspiring. It reframed my own life’s stressors as mere inconveniences, putting things in perspective.
But lessons from my trips went beyond personal growth. Birthright instilled a profound responsibility to give back to our community and honor the gift bestowed upon us by nearly 40,000 generous donors. I know my Holocaust survivor great-grandparents would be proud of the Jewish woman I’ve become and the strong bond I share with Israel.
From my participant journey to my staffer role, each Birthright experience has solidified my calling: to be a Jewish leader and motivate others to make a positive impact on our community. These immersive experiences create a ripple effect across generations, thanks to supporters like you.
By fostering connections with fellow Jews in the Diaspora and forging unbreakable bonds with Israeli peers, we impact each other in ways we never thought possible. We stand united across the ocean through good times and bad.
Every Jewish individual deserves the opportunity to experience Israel firsthand. Your selfless contribution to Birthright is the most meaningful mitzvah you can offer. Birthright trips transform lives, reconnect individuals to their heritage, remind us of our shared responsibility, inspire us to marry Jewish, raise Jewish children, and stand firmly with Israel.
Words will never be enough to thank you for the gifts you have given me. I just hope that together, we can continue to ensure this experience is available to every single young Jewish adult today, tomorrow, and forever.