The first time I traveled to Israel was when I was fourteen and then most recently…
Our daughter, Desiree, went on Birthright Israel last July from New York. Up until this trip she had very little interest in her Jewish heritage and absolutely no interest in going to temple, adhering to the traditions of Judaism or dating/marrying a Jewish man. When my wife and I picked her up from the airport, we were amazed and delighted to hear her proudly announce that as a result of her trip to Israel, she has had a spiritual and religious awakening.
For the first time in her life she felt a strong connection, not only with the country of Israel, but also with her religion and heritage as a Jew. She quickly developed close ties with many other young men and women in her group which in a short time blossomed into a close friendship that she believes will last a lifetime. She was emotionally moved by many of the experiences she had. She brought home works of Jewish art and a Mezuzah to proudly display in her apartment, signifying that she is honored to be a Jew. She even went so far as to tell us that she wants to marry a Jewish man. To this date, she has never even dated a Jewish man. As parents, we are ecstatic that after 22 years, our daughter has finally uncovered and enthusiastically embraced her Jewish identity and religion.
To Birthright Israel Foundation and the donors who made this trip possible: thank you so much for the wonderful gift you provided to our daughter, and to us as loving Jewish parents. The transformation of our daughter immediately upon return from her Birthright Israel trip is yet another example that your mission is a success and very important to the longstanding survival of Israel, the Jewish religion and culture/customs of all Jewish men/women throughout the world.