Birthright: Conversations in the Desert


During my Birthright trip to Israel, we drove into the Negev desert to stay in the Bedouin tents. That evening I had many wonderful conversations… I had a conversation with myself, as I lay in the middle of nowhere, gazing up at the stars in silence; I had a conversation with an Israeli friend and talked about a vast array of topics, comparing countries and cultures; I had a conversation with a stranger that made me smile… then I had a conversation with my madricha, where she told me about a program that she had participated in called Tikkun OlamShe told me that participants of the program live, work, and volunteer in Israel for 5 or 10 months, learning about Jewish culture and studying Hebrew, while collectively giving to the community. It sounded wonderful! Before our conversation had even ended I had already decided this was definitely something that I wanted to do.

For the rest of my stay in Israel I kept this thought in the back of my mind, mulling over the possibilities and what would be entailed in a commitment like this. By the time I returned home from Birthright, all I could think of was going back… as soon as I landed in New York, I missed the air, the smells, the people, and the colors of Israel. I subsequently spent the last 3 months of my life daydreaming of returning and cooking as much Israeli food as I possibly could. I officially have my very own recipes for schnitzel, humous, shakshouka, stuffed zucchini, and falafel, and am working on conjuring up my own flavorful rendition of shawarma. I have started lighting candles for Shabbat, and am even passing on my new traditions to my family.

In addition to my cooking frenzy, I managed to pull myself out of daydreaming long enough to apply for the Tikkun Olam in Tel Aviv-Jaffa Coexistence Track. It took some courage, because it was so dear to my heart that in the back of my mind I had the ominous thought of, “what if I don’t get in?” But… I am relieved and terribly excited to announce that I have been accepted into the program! Though I know the next 4 months will fly by before I know it, I am still counting the minutes until I can return to Israel.

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