Hillel International has provided yogis with the birthright trip of their dreams. Birthright yoga is a free birthright trip that runs twice a year and is growing in interest.
Michelle Schwartz, University of Delaware graduate ('17) and Hillel alumni, shares her life changing experience of incorporating her passion of yoga, with her love for Israel. Her life came full circle when she attended the first ever Birthright yoga trip just last winter and this past summer returned as a staff member.
Schwartz was a track athlete in high school and was not initially interested by the slow pace of yoga. After coming to UD and participating in a yoga course, she became certified to teach. Having a great interest in yoga, she decided to spread this incorporate her passion with her Jewish heritage. Birthright yoga was the key to this connection.
That following summer, Schwartz was asked lead the next trip. She was honored to be chosen for such an amazing opportunity. The trip reinforced her love for both yoga and Israel. The most exciting part of the trip? Schwartz was a leader at the yoga festival on June 21st. This day is also the summer solstice and International Yoga Day. Schwartz said, “We practiced yoga with a co mmunity rather than 40 of us in a hotel.” Integrating themselves into the Israeli community that was gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv was life changing. They were able to feel their Jewish bonds.
The trip focuses on mindfulness and allows participants to Israel through a new light. Yogis are able to come together with the commonalities of being Jewish and loving yoga. Everyone on the trip practiced yoga every day together, in different parts of the country.
Schwartz reflects on her trip and she said, “It is making me want to see Israel for more than the sites. I want to see and live in that community.” She wants to experience Israel from the perspective of locals and continue to understand the culture. Participating in Birthright yoga has not only enhanced her yoga abilities, but greatly increased her love and appreciation for being Jewish.
To find out more about this trip, visit http://www.freeisraeltrip.org/.