A Letter to You, Going on Birthright

I had wanted to go to Israel for as long as I could remember. I grew up going to Hebrew school, and in high school was a member of a Jewish Youth Group and worked at a JCC Summer Camp.

All around me, people were talking about Israel. Whenever someone would ask where I wanted to travel, my first response was always Israel. And when I started school at the University of Florida, my chance finally arrived - I could sign up for

UF Hillel Birthright.

The very first time I stepped of the plane in Israel, in December of 2015, I felt an overwhelming sense of home. I walked through the airport and saw Hebrew letters surrounding me, heard the locals speaking the language of my people quickly and fluently through the terminals, and saw the smiles of my fellow Birthright trip participants as we took our first few steps in our homeland. For the first time in my life, as a Jewish woman, I felt that I was not a minority. In fact, I was in the MAJORITY group in this land.

As the trip progressed, I had the opportunity to connect with not only the land of Israel, with its rich history and culture, but also with the other participants on my Birthright trip.

We were a random group of college students who did not know anything about each other except for the fact that we were all Jewish. That one fact connected us deeply as we traveled the State of Israel together, and each found our own personal connections and meaningful moments.

Each time I go back to Israel, I find the same sense of relief in the feeling I get when I walk off the plane. Each time I go back, it feels more and more like my home. I always create new memories and experiences, and I get something wonderful out of each trip. But I will never forget my very first time, thanks to Birthright.

You can go to Israel time and time again, and it will always be wonderful. But you only go to Israel for the first time once. Make the most of your first time in Israel and let every moment and memory sink in, because you’re going to have an experience like no other.

Best,

Julia

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UF Hillel

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