One of the great parts of any birthright israel trip are the mifgashim. Basically half way through the trip we are joined by 8 Israelis. Since they are the same age as the trip participants, they are always soldiers. The soldiers love the opportunity to get a few days off from their army duties and the trippers are usually eager to meet their Israeli peers. Our soldiers showed up this past Friday and they have already totally bonded with the trip participants. I am uploading their pics below but later I will introduce each of them – tell you where they are from, what they do and how/if they are enjoying their break so far.

Shani Ostreicher, from North Tel Aviv. Army social worker
Before the army, I worked as a counsellor in a Jewish summer camp in Minneapolis specializing in Hebrew (of course) and nature. One of the interesting things about that job was that I discovered that I really enjoy representing Israel. Joining this Taglit-birthright israel trip represented just another opportunit for me to let people know more about Israel. The group has been really cool so far – they really want to learn about my life, about Israel and about their Jewish identities. Taglit-birthright israel is a great program – it’s great for Israel’s economy and I think it will affect the trip particpants in a positive way with respect to their Judaism.

Moriel Lazarus, from Tel Aviv, Army Social Worker, lead singer of Strawberry Jam
I wanted to join a Taglit birthright israel trip because my older brother was on it and he said it was a great experience. Every year I’d see the trip participants having a good time in Tel Aviv and I was psyched that now I could join them. So far it’s been better than I expected. I was born in Boston before my family made Aliyah so Americans are not these exotic, mysterious creatures to me. I am also enjoying the opportunity to tour my country and learn new things about it.

Adi Peleg, from Ramat Gan. Paratrooper – Computer Specialist
The trip has been great so far. I lve any opportunity to to travel in Israel and the group has been really cute so far. They certainly know how to have a good time! This trip is worth it because it will help strengthen Jewish diasporah ties to Israel. Many of the trip participants don’t seem to know much about Judaism or Israel but living where they live I guess it’s understandable – but that’s what maes this trip so important.

Yoni Busbib, from Jerusalem. Paratrooper 101st Unit
I came on Taglit-birthright israel to meet new people and to have a few days break from the army. I have lots of Jewish family in Europe and in the States, so American Jews are not a new thing to me. Also I live in Jerusalem so I know many Americans there. The trip participants are wonderful but their mentality is totally different from that of a typical Israeli. Those of us in the army just think of different things than young American Jews – this doesn’t stop us from bonding though. We are both curious about each others lives. Their lives begin at 18 whereas we’re getting ready to sacrifice 3 years of our lives. This creates differences but none that cannot be overcome by our shared Jewish identities. I’d love it if they all moved to Israel!

Mark Katson, from Afula. Paratrooper (Sayeret)
I had no idea what to expect from this trip, but I was looking forward to a couple of days off from my Army duty. So far the trip participants have been really nice and to me and I am having a great time.

Roi Duek, from Kibbutz Ha Ma’apil. Paratrooper 101st Unit
I came on this trip because I wanted to contrast the image of Israel with the reality. It’s not all wars and conflict – for me it’s like paradise. I wanted to help create bonds with Israel, I wanted to teach these kids about their religion and their identities. I am horrified by how many of them will intermarry and I want to do my share to help prevent that. The trip’s been pretty good so far, I am having a great time but meeting American Jews helps me appreciate Israel so much more. I met several trip participants who have been fantastic, warm and friendly. American Jews and Israelis are so different. At the same age it seems we have gone through so much more than they have – but I don’t resent them for that. They are all basically good kids but it’s a shame their parents didn’t teach some of them a little more about their identity.

Corinne Shalev, from Pardes Channah. Boot Camp Instructor
I heard of Taglit-birthright Israel before I began my army service. I signed on for this trip because I was looking forward to meeting American Jews my age and thought it would be fun to tour the country with them. The trip participants are really nice and I like the way everyone gets along. I was surprised how even I, after having toured the country so much in school, still managed to learn new things.

Nir Tayer from Moshav Tquma. Paratrooper (Sayeret)
I joined this Taglit-birthright israel trip in order to see a different culture from what I am used to and to meet people I’ve never met before. I don’t live in a big city so I don’t have much opportunity to socialize with American Jews my age. And the trip participants are so American, not at all like Israelis – which is a good thing! They are eager to talk and are curious about everything – my Moshav, what it’s like living in an agricultural community, what the army is like, everything! Some of them didn’t know about last summer’s war in Lebanon so we certainly had what to talk about.

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ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

14 Comments

  • Just seeing this makes me miss our soldiers from the trip last summer. We were 14 instead of 40, a week after the war started, and having the soldiers there made the trip that much more meaningful. I can’t wait to go back!

  • Wonderful to hear these stories! We hosted a young Israeli years ago and found them delightful. Can’t wait to hear more about the trip! Some day I hope to go but I am having a hard time getting my husband to go…he worries about the danger. Our temple goes twice a year but he is still resistant. Who knows! Just have to wait and see.

  • I know it wasn’t meant to be funny, but I found this comment quite amusing in the context of Birthright:
    I am horrified by how many of them will intermarry and I want to do my share to help prevent that.

  • Rabbi Yo: The guys are all in combat units. One is Sephardic, one is a moshavnik and none are from Tel Aviv. Sounds about right. Cosmopolitan, educated Ashkenazic parents from wealthy Tel Aviv suburbs do whatever they can to keep their precious kids out of combat. Combat is for stupid new immigrants, dummies who still have values and too-dumb-to-know better Sephardim.

  • Just to let you know there are plenty of wealthy, educated Ashkenazi and Spharadik people outside of Tel Aviv who see going into combat units as prestious, and will fight the system to get into those units.
    Come to Cesarea to meet some, but call before you come, to make sure they are out for Shabbat. They are rarely are.

  • Um….yea…..there sure are no paratroopers like Adi in the 82nd Airborne Division. I joined the wrong military.

  • After The Lebanon War, the mefaked in charge of noticing the soldier’s parents about their son’s death said:

    “I’ve gone to many kibbutzim, moshavim and national-religious settlements… but I’ve never gone to Tel Aviv”…

    ck, don’t blame the Ashkenazim… every family from Tel Aviv’s north part (the rich one) wants their child safe and in a desk-job during the Tzavah

  • gweitz_arg: Hey it’s cool, I understand. I honestly cannot fault anyone for wanting to keep their children safe. What the fuck do I know about having children? Nothing. Unless you count lttle Chauncey over in his fancy swiss boarding school. But he’s being raised by the Contessa. Never mess around with European Royalty, no matter how hot and compelling it (she) might seem. Trust me.

    But I digress. Every family everywhere in Israel wants their children to be safe. I was just commenting on the reduction in idealism in a sector that was traditionally over represented in the elite units. I may have been a tad harsh though. Mea culpa.

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