Lindsay Nathanson is a 2019 Birthright Israel alumna from Philadelphia, PA. She is currently studying History at the University of Tampa, Florida and is an intern at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Lindsay has her own YouTube channel, auxcord, where she makes history “as little of a bore as possible.”

We spoke with Lindsay about her Birthright Israel experience and here’s what she had to say!

When did you go on Birthright Israel and what kind of trip did you choose?

I went on Birthright in December/January and chose to go without a campus group so I could make friends and explore Israel myself.

What is your Jewish background?

Upon marrying my dad, my mom converted to Judaism. My brother and I were raised Jewish until my parents’ separation where they, unfortunately, both lost a little bit of their faith. When I went to college, I made a promise to myself to rediscover my Judaism and going on Birthright Israel my senior year of college was the best thing I could have ever done to do that!

What was the major factor that drove you to sign up for Birthright Israel?

Clarity of my heritage and an itching travel bug.

Most importantly, what did you learn on the trip?

I was always kind of hazy toward’s Israel’s relationship with the West Bank. Going on this trip and being able to interact with real IDF soldiers opened my eyes to this issue. The IDF soldiers took the time to explain to the rest of the group each of their jobs within the IDF and that was something super exciting to learn about, as I take an interest towards military history. In lieu of that, also think I got further and more in-depth understanding of what it means to be Jewish, more specifically Israeli. I liked how the trip focused on religion at the appropriate times, and culture at its respected times too.

What was your favorite part of Birthright Israel?

My favorite part was easily being invited to one of our IDF soldier’s homes. When we were leaving Jerusalem, Aviva suggested we stop by her parents’ house, which was right around the corner from where we were staying. Her family welcomed us with open arms and homemade pizzas and were happy to share the family history of their neighborhood, and give me the most valuable experience while being in Israel: being in a real Israeli home!

Do you see your trip having a long-term impact on your life?

Birthright has given me a deeper connection to my beliefs and understanding of what it means to be Jewish. It was sort of a moment of confirmation being in Israel if that makes sense.

Did you know it takes over 35,000 donors to give you and your peers the gift of Birthright Israel? If you could say anything to them what would it be?

I would say you’re all giving young Jews the opportunity to travel, find themselves, make new connections, and truly fall in love with Judaism. You’re all giving us the trip of a lifetime, and I thank you endlessly.