The Trip of a Lifetime
By Jacob Persily, Class of 2016
10 days – 12,000 miles in the air – 75 miles on foot – 1 incredible experience
There is no better way to characterize the incredible nature of a Birthright trip than with the numbers that spell out just how much one can accomplish in ten days with a bit of determination. There is, of course, one number I have not mentioned, the number zero. Zero – The cost of this incredible experience.
Looking back a few weeks later, this was a truly life changing experience. As a Rutgers student, I really did not take advantage of the incredible resources that Rutgers Hillel provides to Jewish students on campus, but I felt it would be a good idea to travel to Israel with the Rutgers group to try and gain a bit of a connection in the few weeks after graduation. Thanks to Liel Zahavi-Asa, the IACT Coordinator for Birthright Israel at Rutgers Hillel, the process was simple and straightforward. Before we knew it, we were meeting at the airport to embark on the trip of a lifetime.
Whether climbing up Masada at sunrise, floating in the Dead Sea, riding a camel, or embarking on a “light hike,” as Hannan, our Israeli tour guide liked to say, the days were jam packed with memorable experiences shared with peers both from Rutgers and from Israel. Every Birthright trip arranges for a group of Israeli soldiers completing their IDF service to join the group for part of the trip, which allows life-long friendships to form with Israelis our own age who have experienced life in a very different way. This is, by far, the most impactful part of the trip. It allowed me to take a new perspective on the freedom and safety we often take for granted in America.
As I have told several people since we have returned, if you are eligible, there is no reason to not go on a Birthright trip. The Jewish community in America, in Israel, and across the world spends millions of dollars each year for Jewish college students and recent grads to have this life changing experience, and you should take full advantage. You may gain new friends, a new outlook on life, or even just new memories, but this truly is the trip of a lifetime.
Registration for the Winter 2016-2017 Rutgers Birthright trip with Rutgers Hillel (December 29, 2016 – January 9, 2017) opens September 12th! Visit www.rutgershillel.org/birthright and click the link to reserve your spot on our winter bus!
Through the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement, students strengthen their connections to Israel and the Jewish people. After they return from a transformational Birthright experience, students continue to explore their love for Israel. The Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement exposes students to positive messages about Israel to help them develop stronger Jewish connections to our homeland.
Please support Rutgers Hillel as we create the next generation of Jewish leaders and change the conversation about Israel on campus.