If you are Jewish and between the ages of 18-26, you may want to consider looking into a Birthright Trip. I am by no means a religious person, but I was 26, and had never been out of the country before. So, in my mind, a free trip to Israel..why not.
I applied through Taglit’s program, but there are many different programs you can go through. I was surprisingly accepted which truly shocked me.
There were 25 of us on a 10 day trip through Israel. We flew on El-Al Air and had a private bus take us around the country.
It was definitely worth the trip and although I did not come back uber religious, I now have much more respect for the country of my ancestors.
Even more importantly, when I think back to the way that the cultures got along within the country, it fills my heart with understanding and respect to the cultures.
You can see more pictures here:
We went to:
Jerusalem Promenade – Panoramic Intro to an Ancient City
Welcome to Jerusalem! The Haas Promenade of Jerusalem offers a sweeping view of the Old City as it opens up across three converging valleys below. From this magnificent viewpoint, we will be introduced to the story of Jerusalem, its topography, major landmarks, and the arc of its history.
Old City & Jewish Quarter Walking Tour
The Jewish Quarter of the Old City sits at the heart of the ancient and modern Jewish World. History comes alive as we walk along rooftops, alleys and tunnel ways. Our experience in the Old City culminates at the Western Wall, which is a treasured relic of the 2nd Temple that once stood in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is a one-of-a-kind symbol that connects the Jewish people back to their history.
Camel Trek & Traditional Bedouin Hafla Feast
No visit to Israel would be complete without a camel ride. These land cruisers of the desert are famous for their hardiness. We’ll have the chance to mount up and go for a spin in the desert. Camel riding is followed by a traditional hafla feast in a Bedouin tent. The Bedouin are famous for their hospitality and truly delicious food. Relax on floor pillows in the tent as we dine in style the Bedouin way.
Sunrise Ascent to Masada via the Snake Path
Masada is a desert fortress built on the heights of a flat-topped mountain that overlooks the Dead Sea. After climbing to its plateau summit along the Snake Path route, we will tour Masada’s ancient ruins and hear the epic famous story of the breakaway band of Jewish rebels that fled from the Roman army to Masada some two thousand years ago for a final stand.
Desert Waterfalls in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve
Along the shore of the Dead Sea rises the Judean Mountains. These mountains contain some of the driest land on earth — with a couple of significant exceptions. One of the oases in the desert is Ein Gedi. A steady stream of water runs through this national reserve year round giving life to a narrow band of desert. A large number of Ibex and other desert mammals call Ein Gedi home and can nearly always be found along the water’s edge. This short hike contains plenty of opportunities to swim and is especially relaxing and refreshing.
Floating along the Beaches of the Dead Sea
There is possibly no site in Israel as famous as the Dead Sea. This unique body of water occupies the lowest place on the planet earth and is so salty that everything floats. It’s quite a unique phenomenon. The Dead Sea is also famous for its mineral rich mud along the shores. The mud is said to be excellent for the skin. Smear it on!
Mahane Yehuda Market as Jerusalem Prepares for Shabbat
Jerusalem is both an ancient city and a modern one. Nothing defines Jerusalem modernity more than the Mahane Yehuda “shuk” or marketplace. Everything edible is for sale at Mahane Yehuda, including super fresh produce and plenty of local delicacies. On a Friday afternoon, the market is literally buzzing with frenetic energy as the people of Jerusalem prepare for Shabbat.
Friday Night Lights at the Western Wall
No matter what your Jewish background, there’s something very special about a Friday night at the Western Wall. As the Shabbat day of rest begins, thousands of Israelis descend upon the Western Wall complex for traditional Friday night prayers & song. Not every Kesher group is able to spend Shabbat in Jerusalem, but if your group is one of the fortunate ones, you are in for a special treat.
Walking Tour of Jerusalem Neighborhoods
The “modern” neighborhoods of Jerusalem (post 1800’s) are full of colorful charm. These neighborhoods also contain the living history of Jewish communities from all corners of the world which have made their way to Jerusalem. Each established its own unique neighborhood where their respective cultural life is preserved to this day. You’ll find that a lot can be learned about the story of the Jewish people on a simple walk through Jerusalem’s neighborhoods.
Mifgash Program with Israeli Peers
Each URJ Kesher trip is joined by a group of Israeli peers for at least four days of the trip. Usually the Israeli peers are chosen from among those currently serving in Israel’s Defense Forces. The purpose of the mifgash (which loosely translates as “an encounter”) is for Israelis and North Americans to get to know each other on a personal level and to better understand each side’s world view and identity.
The Mystical City & Artist Colony of Tzfat
Located in the hills of the Galilee overlooking the Sea of Galilee to the south, Tzfat has long been a center of Jewish mysticism and intrigue. This ancient city is full of stone alleys, rich history, and very colorful personalities. There’s nothing quite like Tzfat. In more recent times, a unique artist colony has found a home in Tzfat.
Regional Lookout from Mount Bental
Situated on the far eastern border of the Golan, Mount Ben Tal offers a panoramic view of Israel, Lebanon, Syrian, and Jordan (all from a very safe distance!!!). On a very clear day, you can even look out onto Damascus.
Yad Va-Shem Holocaust Memorial
Yad Va-Shem is Israel’s national Holocaust memorial. Situated in wooded hills of Jerusalem, it is a uniquely solemn complex. After walking through the main museum area, we will walk through central shrine area, the Sculpture Garden, the Forest of the Righteous Gentiles, and the especially powerful Children’s Memorial.
Nahalat Binyamin: Tel Aviv’s Street Festival
Located in the Yemenite Quarter, one of Tel Aviv’s earliest neighborhoods, Nachalat Binyamin pedestrian mall is a colorful open-air bazaar of handicrafts, street performances, pantomime and live music.