Upon returning from numerous different Birthright trips, people always refer to Birthright as the best experience of their lives, a trip of self-discovery and the renewal of their Jewish identities. I never believed their claims, or at least never expected such an experience for myself. How could ten days on what essentially seemed like a school trip with strangers possibly change my outlook on life or on myself?
I will now try to explain how my life was, indeed, changed in those ten short days in Israel. When asked about my first time in Israel, it is easy to discuss how much fun it was riding in a jeep across the Golan Heights, how climbing Masada so brilliantly proved to me how out of shape I really am, or how beautiful the sunset over the Mediterranean coast looks out of a bus window. What is impossible to explain at this moment is how these activities changed me emotionally and spiritually…they just did.
This trip has exposed me to the lives and stories of some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and would never have the chance to meet anywhere else. Birthright, though an amazing Jewish bonding and exploratory program, is, in my mind, all about the individual experiences and responses it inspires. Learning from the Israeli soldiers that joined us for only five days of our trip but feel like lifelong friends, the other University of Delaware students on bus #1143 (shout out!), and the Israeli history taught to us by our fantastic tour educator helped me reveal to myself my own abilities, individual strength, and self-initiative, things I have always struggled to invoke at home in the U.S.
I never believed the people who told me about the inspirational and self-fulfilling nature of Birthright, but having gone despite my inhibitions and skepticism, I now understand and share their sentiments on this priceless journey. Words cannot express my appreciation for this opportunity and its personal value to me. The only thing I can say now is…when can I go back?
Rebecca Arias is a sophomore at the University of Delaware studying history with a minor in Spanish. Rebecca is from Princeton, New Jersey. This past year, Rebecca has worked as a Campus Entrepreneur Initiative (CEI) intern at UD Hillel focusing on meeting and engaging a wide variety of Jewish freshmen on the UD campus. Rebecca hopes to increase both her own and Hillel's network of Jewish students to create a strong, engaged, and cohesive Jewish presence on campus. Through this internship and her experience on Birthright this past winter, Rebecca has continued to increase her personal involvement and promotion of UD Hillel within the Jewish community at UD. Rebecca enjoys continuing to explore her own Jewish identity in college as well as connecting to fellow Jewish students largely through the programs offered by UD Hillel.