In 2004 I moved from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to a small suburban town in New Jersey…
Within Atlanta’s bustling Jewish community of 130,000 people, Birthright Israel Foundation is fortunate to have captured the hearts of many. The impact of Birthright Israel Foundation’s work and the Atlanta leadership inspired Sara and Stuart Meyers to become avid supporters.
We were fortunate enough to get to know the couple and speak with them about their excitement for the program. Here is what they had to say:
Why do you believe in the Birthright Israel experience?
Sara: We’ve seen the stats, we’ve heard the stories and we’ve been fortunate enough to meet the alumni, so we know the program works. There is power in the experience young adults have on the trip and it enables them to form community.
Stuart: It is in the context in which Birthright Israel is put together and the way the young adults are led through the trip – it’s a fundamentally transformative experience. It’s not something one just remembers, it’s an experience, kind of like remembering a song from long ago, you will always know the words because it’s embedded in your soul. Birthright Israel is embedded in the participant’s soul.
Why do you believe young Jews benefit from the program?
Sara: Birthright Israel is the foundation of our youth- a solid foundation. It opens their eyes and minds to be inspirational and aspirational. After the trip, they know the sky is the limit. When you meet Birthright Israel alumni you see the future is bright.
Stuart: Anyone can shape their Birthright Israel trip according to their likes – this is what makes it so unifying. When you can give someone an opportunity to experience this unifying spirituality and you put that in the context of Israel, Jewish history, etc. – its rocket fuel for people. This breaks down the walls between us.
How do you think Birthright Israel impacts local communities like yours in Atlanta?
Stuart: The trip really wakes them up. I think young people can feel alone, it’s not always cool to be Pro-Israel. When you go on the trip you realize you’re not alone. You find people who share your values.
Sara: The program keeps our young adults involved by staying in touch. There are reunions and post-trip opportunities – the formula Birthright Israel has works.
What is your favorite part about visiting Israel?
Sara: I felt like I could truly be me and be Jewish.
Stuart: The sense of home and true belonging.