Get ready to meet 2023 Birthright Israel alum Chloe Bogen in our interview below! Chloe, who grew up in New York and Florida, always knew she’d claim her birthright when the time was right. She also knew the trip would be extra special if she shared the experience with her college friends at the University of Texas at Austin. However, Chloe applied and, like thousands of her Jewish peers, was waitlisted and fortunately received a last-minute spot on her university trip.

In the heart of Jerusalem, standing at the Western Wall, Chloe had her Birthright Israel “ah-ha” moment that would forever reshape her perspective on life and Judaism. More so, she became extremely close with Israeli participant Yael Fuks. But, do not let us share all of the impact of her Israel journey. Read our interview with Chloe below to get the full scoop!

Q&A with Birthright Israel Alum Chloe Bogen

What inspired you to sign up for a Birthright Israel trip?

Chloe Bogen: “Growing up going to Hebrew school in New York City, I always had heard of Birthright Israel and knew that once I was in college, I would love to go. My first trip to Israel was in June of 2019 with my younger sister and grandparents, who took me for my high school graduation and my sister for her Bat Mitzvah gift.”

Did you have any preconceived notions before going to Israel?

Chloe Bogen: “Since I had been to Israel just a few years prior, I had no extreme preconceived notions that were notable. The only preconceived notion I had was about the trip, not Israel, which was that the bus you are on is crucial to your experience in Israel; therefore, I felt it was important to be on the same bus as all of my college friends. After months of being waitlisted for Birthright Israel, I finally received a spot on a trip with my college friends. This would be our final send-off after graduation, and little did I know that the five days the Israeli participants joined us would leave an everlasting impression on me.”

Did you grow up with a connection to your Jewish identity?

Chloe Bogen: “I would say I was raised Jewish. We did Shabbat every Friday when I was young. I went to Hebrew school and had a Bat Mitzvah. However, over the years, I’ve identified much more with my Jewish identity as it relates to Israel. Ever since visiting in 2019, a very important part of connecting with my Jewish identity is Holocaust remembrance and advocating for others to visit Israel so they can experience it for themselves. I have found it increasingly important to surround myself with Jewish friends during my time at The University of Texas at Austin, a school where we are truly a minority of the population, unlike in Boca Raton, FL, and Manhattan.

What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?

Chloe Bogen: “My biggest takeaway from the trip all occurred in one moment’s time. On our second trip to the Kotel, we had time to write our letters and put them in the wall. As I leaned my head on the wall, I looked back and saw a girl just a few years younger than myself hysterically crying while she prayed. I looked around and saw how important this moment was to all the women around me, all individually living the same experience at the same time—together but separate. It made me think, would I be here today if I gave up and decided to stop emailing Birthright Israel to get me on the trip? No! I wasn’t meant to be there at that moment, but I advocated for myself for this experience, and I finally understood why I needed to go. It wasn’t to be with my friends, and it was for my personal growth and connection to Israel and Judaism.”

Every Dollar Counts! Donate today and help send a young Jewish adult ona life-changing trip to claim their birthright.
Every Dollar Counts! Donate today and help send a young Jewish adult ona life-changing trip to claim their birthright.

How has Birthright Israel played a role in your life since coming home from the trip?

Chloe Bogen: “For one, it made me regret not spending an entire summer there. I wish I had signed up for a program to work there. Additionally, it has played a role in my life at home as I text my soldiers from my bus every day. The relationships I was able to build with them in a matter of five days are just unbelievable, and I only wish they got to stay with us through the whole journey.

Are you involved more in your Jewish community because of your Birthright Israel trip?

Chloe Bogen: “I would say going forward, I am. I will share my experience with Yael Fuks, a dear friend and soldier from my Birthright Israel trip, at The Annual Palm Beach Reception for Birthright Israel Foundation this spring. More so, I cannot wait for her to see my home after I got to see hers.”

If you could meet the donor who made your trip possibly?

Chloe Bogen: “I would say thank you a million times over. This trip is more than just exploring different cities in Israel, it is about the connection you can build from one Jew to another, no matter the language barrier and distance. I know my friendship with Yael is just beginning, and I am forever indebted to this program for giving me the chance to form this connection with Yael.”