It’s always funny to see how fast you can watch an amazing experience pass right in front of your eyes. I’ve been in Israel for two weeks now as a participant in Taglit Birthright. Starting Thursday, I will begin my summer abroad at Tel Aviv University. Every day has been packed with traveling from one site to the next, but at the same time, I have felt like all the experiences have become a blur. One promise that I made to myself before this trip was to fully be present and to be more appreciative and reflective. While I may not remember every detail of my trip so far, I do remember my feelings and the attitude I maintained. With the commitment of my group, I took part in a team effort to be “all in” for our trip. Now, this one saying has become the foundation to the success of my time in Israel.
When my birthright group constantly chanted the phrase “all in”, we committed to putting 100% energy into being active and present. When we hiked the steep trek of Masada, we were all in. When we slept less than 4 hours a night only to have a full day ahead of us, we remained all in. When we said our final goodbyes at Ben Gurion Airport, we were all in until the end. Through the more difficult, but also the most enjoyable parts of our trip, we learned the power of staying positive and always looking at a glass half full.
This is the uphill trail to the peak of Masada, an ancient fortress built between 37 and 31 BCE and located in the western end of the desert overlooking the Dead Sea.
Every birthright trip welcomes a group of soldiers from the Israeli military. These soldiers come from every branch and unit within Israel and typically are within 6 months of completing their mandatory 2 or 3 year service.
The soldiers helped me to stay motivated to be fully present and appreciate the gift of this trip. These men and women are between 18-22 years old and are instilled with a sense of nationalism since a young age to feel pride in serving for their country. They helped show our group how fortunate we are to feel safe traveling through Israel because of their service.
The soldiers were a true addition to the mischpacha, or family, that our group had grown into. Every participant joined this trip as an individual, with almost no connection to the others in our group. We came from all walks of life, regions of the country, and Jewish backgrounds. But every one of us had one detail in common….we had made it to a country that many of our family ancestors were never given the opportunity to see. While I have been fortunate enough to have visited Israel before, this trip gave me a new perspective to the power a group can create in leaving a legacy.
A new friend from Stamford, Connecticut and I, posed in front of the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem has history that dates back over 2000 years and provides a spiritual home for all who visit.
While I certainly am not excited to be “all in” to spending most of my time studying again, I know that there is a memory to be taken from each day I spend in Israel. My time here is limited, but the possibilities are not. As I sit in my new dorm room in Tel Aviv tearing up reliving these past two weeks memories, I will continue to love every moment I am given here and always go all in.