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When I pictured the moment I would feel most connected to and passionate about Judaism on this trip, I imagined a ton of different scenarios. But I will say this: never in my life did I picture that moment would be when I gracelessly tripped while hiking down Masada.

Bus 1058 was about a third of the way down the mountain when it happened. I guess I should have been paying attention to the ground, but I was so awestruck by the breathtaking views and incredible people around me that I got caught up in the moment. The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, and my ankle was killing me. I couldn’t walk on it. With the selfless help of Daniel, our security guard, and Dan, one of the students on my bus, I hiked back up the Masada to take the cable car down to the bottom. On one foot.

I will admit, I was really scared that in that one fleeting moment, Birthright was ruined for me. After all, what if I wouldn’t walk? What if I had to sit out on all the life-changing things I had heard about, time and time again, by friends from past Birthright trips? However, all of my fears faded away when I finally returned to the group. My friends, new and old, constantly checked in on me and helped me move around, waited up for me and, best of all, made me laugh. I was truly moved by how concerned and caring everyone was. To me, a girl most of these students have only known for about a week. In a lifetime, that’s no time at all. I’m realizing though that in Judaism, that’s all the time in the world. I was quite possibly injured, but it was okay, because I was in Israel. I was home.

Our guest speaker, the founder of Birthright, described Judaism not as a religion, but a family. Yes, I have had the best of times here in Israel before and since my fall (especially since my ankle healed!), including floating all together in the Dead Sea, holding my breath in sheer awe standing before the Western Wall, and having guitar sing-alongs. But what truly defines a family are those who hold you up and keep you smiling through the not as good times. I am so extremely grateful and proud to be part of this wonderful family


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