By: Sarah Steinberg
Now that it has been a few months since my trip of a lifetime to Israel, through the amazing opportunity of Birthright, I have had ample opportunity to reflect on my ten day adventure. I was able to experience many historical places, unique foods, and amazing people that I will never forget. In just ten days, I was also able to create memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Some of my most memorable experiences included shopping at The Shuk (marketplace), staying overnight in the Negev Desert, and befriending eight amazing Israeli soldiers. The entire experience provided me with a connection to Israel and my own Jewish identity for which I am grateful to Birthright.
One unique experience was shopping at The Shuk in Jerusalem. Being able to go off on our own and bargain with sellers over prices of clothing and spices allowed me to experience the culture of an Israeli. It was a blast walking through the crowded streets and looking at all of the amazing items being sold.
Towards the end of our trip we visited the extremely hot but beautiful Negev Desert. The Bedouin people were extraordinarily nice to host us for a night of feast and celebration. My favorite part of staying in the desert was riding the camels. Although it was uncomfortable, it was also very fun and a unique opportunity. After a fun filled night of barely any sleep we all woke up at 4:00 am to hike up the Masada to see the sunrise. The magnificent views and watching the break of day with people that had become some of my closest friends made for the best memories.
Finally, the most rewarding part of the trip was being able to spend time with the most amazing Israeli soldiers. They traveled with us for a good portion of the trip. I was a little skeptical about whether we would have things in common, but I was wrong. The first time we were all introduced, we had an instant connection; it was extremely easy to talk and joke around with all of them. They were curious about our lives just as much as we were curious about theirs. They easily integrated into our group, as if we had all been friends for years.
Not only did the trip provide fun experiences like riding camels and sleeping in the desert, it provided me with a connection to Israel. Our tour guide did an amazing job of teaching us about the history of the country; it was not only informative but also entertaining and rewarding.
Although the places we went and the food we ate are still fresh in my memory now, they may start to fade away over time. But the people that I met, the friendships that I made and my love for Israel will never fade away. This trip was an amazing experience that I hope everyone can partake in. You will not only learn so much about Israel and its culture, but you will also develop friendships at home and abroad that will last a lifetime.
Sarah is a sophomore kinesiology major from Westborough, MA. She loves to travel and her favorite food is sushi.