I remember being perplexed at how people could eat so many vegetables for breakfast. I remember hiking in the hills outside of Jerusalem and knowing that at some point I would live at least a fraction of my life in Israel. I remember my best friend Sara turning the most ungodly shade of grey after a long night of drinking and a particularly windy bus ride. I remember seeing the security fence and marveling at how close the cities on either side were to eachother. I remember Noam, the foxy guard. I remember visiting the kotel when it was hailing. I remember Joe Perlov’s amazing map exercise. I remember wading out into the Kinneret among the reeds as the sun set. I remember South Americans and French birthrighters gathering around a fire with us Americans and all of us, while unable to chit chat in any common language, singing Jewish songs together. I remember the breathtaking dome of stars out in the Negev. I remember the Israelis who spent a few days with us and how open and enthusiastic they were. I remember holding my scarf in the wind at the top of Massada and watching it flap like a flag as the sun rose in the distance. I remember Yad Vashem. I remember the Arab boys leading our camels, checking their cellphones every 2 minutes. I remember discussions about intermarriage that brought some to tears. I remember a beautiful Shabbat service on a balcony overlooking Jerusalem. I remember an incredible sense of gratitude to the people who made the gift of birthright israel possible for me รขโ‚ฌโ€œ it changed my life.

What do you remember?

Jacob Shwirtz, the tireless head of the BRI Alumni Association in Israel (among other things), announced that a full-length documentary movie is being produced for Israeli TV about Taglit-birthright israel. Jacob is looking for people with cool, funny, quirky, inspirational,or interesting stories to share in the film. Mildly interesting might work, too. They’d like to see the whole spectrum of alumni activities in Israel (work, school, army, volunteering, etc.). If you live in Israel and have stories to tell, please email him a short overview to share with the director at Jacob@JacobShwirtz.com.

About the author

alli

17 Comments

  • Beautiful description. All other bad experiences aside, Birthright Israel was the best time I’ve ever had in Israel, or on any “vacation” period. Wonderfully done and organized. Wonderful people. Friends I’ve made and kept for life. Huzzah for HIBBA!

  • Thanks a lot Alli! It’s so cool being able to be active with the alumni community in Israel. If anyone is thinking about coming back – for any reason or length of time – totally feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or whatever. Also, we do a lot of “social events” (i.e. excuses to go out drinking) so even if you don’t think your story is particularly film-worthy, write me so I can add you to our announcement list. You won’t regret it (you may regret the hangovers but that’s out of my jurisdiction).

  • Ahh you bring back fond memories, I know a great memory for me, was watching the fellow birthrighters with no previous experience or interaction with the Eretz Hakodesh, feel something stir in them, their dormant acensteral ties to the land suddenly surface like a seedling, and their Jewish identity suddenly coming into place. Hedonism aside, I believe it to be a spiritual experience for all

  • What about the Nutella? I never saw Nutella as a standard table condiment until I went to Israel!

  • Live there for many years, as I did, and your fond memories dissipate in a murky mess of political hypocricies, blood soaked bodies, and an unparalleled brand of rudeness only visible once Hebrew rolls off the tongue as easily as the insults.

    I love that fuckin’ country, yo. Committed. Bound. It’s just so, so far away from the Birthright Garden.

  • But you know what? Long live ‘the birthright garden!’ I know, I made aliyah and have lived here for over a year now, and the images of birthright aren’t what my experience has been in yom yom daily life – but no one is suggesting that the two things are the same. birthright is sort of an intensive; I imagine it like the metaphoric cocktail party where I met my metaphoric husband who I learned later is a real person who farts and everything.

  • I am very glad they brought Alli onto the team. Alli represents for me, the True Olah. One who is there, always there. Sometimes it seems to me that the main Jewlicious olim, are using Israel, as a resting place, between trips around the world. I have counted about 6-7 trips they made in the past year, and there’s probably more. Montreal, New York, California (twice), Amsterdam, and more.

    But Alli, is always in Israel. That is the true test for Aliyah. Alli is the type of girl I was searching for, for many years, but alas, I could not find her there. I found her back in america.

    I remember friends, telling me, your woman is not here yet, she hasn’t arrived here yet. Perhaps they were referring to Alli. But I could not wait anymore, and I followed a girl to Philadelphia, PA. Tho we were hot and heavy, she wasn’t the one.
    Then I met mines a few months later. So who knows.

    No offense gang, just kidding as usual. lol.

  • I went on Birthright and had an awesome experience. It brought me back to my Jewish heritage. I loved the wailing wall and other aspects of my Jewish identity. It helped get involve in montreal, even my mother looks at Israel differently. It is our home. The home for all Jews. That is what makes is to special……

  • I as a historian am very disturbed by the contents of this site. Do you sympathise with terror, because you really seem to be posting a lot of hateful things on this site. The PALESTINIANS were in fact to some extent a distinguished ethnic group living in what hs recently been disguised as Israel. The PALESTINIANS however were under Ottoman rule for hundreds of years so they obviously could go around displaying their national identity without knowing that they would be engaged. When Chaim Weizman in some mysterious way maneged to convince the English that the poor Jews who had been suffering for about 2000 years needed a national home, the english ha no problem complying. Of course Weizman did tell the English prime minister that in echange for Palestine he would with the help of his Zionist partners in the good old USA persuade America to engage Germany in the first world war. WOW… Well now it seems that when one goes to the roots oif the problem the …. caused Germany to lose the war. And the… also gave Hitler a reason to hate them. Of couse I dont think the Holocaust was good, it was just dreadful.

  • End the prejudice and hate NOW! Anti-masturbationites are spreading their mindless intolerance throughout Eretz Israel. As free men and women, Israelis have as much right as anyone else in the world to pleasure themselves after a hard day’s work. Why should so-called religious zealots denigrate this inexpensive, wholesome and safe activity. They do not like it when anyone denigrates their performance of metzitza b’peh on an infant yet they have the unmitigated gall to disparage zayin b’yadayin. Such hypocrisy!

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