Walking on the streets of Tel Aviv a few months ago on my way to get the best falafel in the city at HaKosem, I noticed a familiar face. A woman was picking something up off the street. Something about her seemed so familiar. Her face took me back nearly 10 years ago to my Birthright Israel trip. Something about this woman seemed so familiar, but then again, there were forty of us on a bus, and time had really passed.

But I had this unshakable feeling that it was her so I followed her for half a block. After getting a better look, I knew I was right. It was my Noa! Noa was a Mifgash (Israeli soldier) on my Birthright Israel trip in 2008. I began to call out, “Noa, Noa…”

She turned around and we stood in front of each other in utter shock.  Noa and I had kept in touch over the years, and before my visit to Israel, I had wished her a huge Mazal on her recent wedding. I assumed she’d be out of town on her honeymoon during my trip.

After a long hug, Noa invited me over for Shabbat dinner but since I’d already made plans,  we grabbed a cup of coffee instead. Within minutes, we’d picked up where we left off as if no time had passed. As if we were right back on that bus in 2008…

Those are the kind of connections you make on Birthright Israel. In just 10 days, you form lifelong bonds and friendships that span entire countries and decades of time apart. 

Birthright Israel was one of the most crucial experiences that has shaped my life and is what ignited my love for Israel. To top it off, it led me to a career with AIPAC that I’m endlessly passionate about, and where I’ve been for the last 8 years!

Alix and Noa on their Birthright Israel trip in 2008