|He’d love me more, bitch!|
Even with the one small Springer-like fight that erupted between two Jewlicious women in love with the same dead revolutionary (as pictured to the right), our last Jewlicous-Oranim birthright trip went remarkably well, ck’s week long feverish flu and my own sniffles notwithstanding.
Among other Jewlicious-exclusives, we were lucky enough to catch rock star turned special agent Aaron Cohen, aka “the slave redeemer,” on his first trip to Israel in 10 years. He came in to talk to our group about human trafficking and the undercover work he does in Israel and elsewhere to free young girls forced into sex slavery.
We also screened The Tribe, an excellent, “unorthodox, unauthorized history of the Jewish people and Barbie…in about 15 minutes.” An amazing conversation starter on Jewish Identity in the 21st century that anyone in NY should catch when it plays on Feb. 22 at the 92nd st. Y.
By far though, our most successful event was Shabbat home hospitality – where we place the participants in small groups at various families homes for a Shabbat meal. Despite the wrath-of-God like downpour and hailstorm we were caught in on the way, when we asked participants their favorite moments of the trip, at least 80% said Shabbat dinner. Taglit-birthright israel: take note.
ck and I are busy uploading each of our photos to flickr, they’re not all there yet by any means, by you can start checking them out now.
Here’s what one of our participants, Lindsey Hirshorn had to say:
My name is Lindsey, I am 20-years-old, I am a Jew and I live in Kansas (gasp!). I originally signed up for Birthright because I thought a free trip to Israel was freaking sweet. However, I have never been religious, so I didn’t want this to be an extremely religious experience. This is mainly because it is so hard to be different in the â€œBible beltâ€ of the U.S.A. You know? Anyhoo- my plan all along was to sign up for a group in which I didn’t know anyone. Well, my plan worked! (woot woot!) Not only did I not know anyone in the group, but I was also the only person from Kansas. This gave me the opportunity to explain to my group that yes, I have the Internet in Kansas and no; I don’t live on a farm. Haha
I grew up in a city where my elementary and middle school consisted of about four Jews. This made it very difficult for me to want to accept Judaism as a part of my life. When I was in 6th grade, a girl told me that I was going to hell because I was Jewish and didn’t accept Jesus as my savior. After this, I was ashamed to be Jewish for so long because I didn’t want to be different from anyone else.
I don’t have any Jewish friends in Kansas and so I thought that Birthright might help me in finding some friends who don’t judge me because I of my religion. And it did just that. From day one, I met people in my group (BR 490!!) that have changed me forever. This was my first time in Israel, and I have to say that after this trip, I not only completely feel in love with the country, but I also feel more connected to Israel and the Jewish community. Before I went, I didn’t know what to expect. But what I received in return was definitely more than I bargained for. Being able to immerse myself in the Israeli and Jewish culture was priceless. Our group was the only group that spent Shabbat in the homes of Israelis. It was an indescribable experience.
Like I said, I never considered myself very Jewish, but when our group went to the Western Wall before we left, I found myself crying because my connection to Israel became so strong in the 10 short days I spent there. My favorite part of the trip was not just the incredible monuments of history we were privileged enough to experience, but the friendships I made. Being in Israel and feeling such a strong connection to the country and making Jewish friends that I know I will have forever, made me realize that I have never been more proud to say I am a Jew. Oranim and the Jewlicious staff orchestrated a program that didn’t make me feel like I had to go to services every week and pray every day to be a good Jew. I learned that being a good person makes me a good Jew and that is all I can ask for.
Her last sentence, of course, told ck and I that we had clearly failed, but it did manage to start a whole conversation between her and myself on what I feel the difference is, actually, between being a good person adn being a good Jew. But that’s a topic for another post…