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August 25, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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August 25, 2017

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 25, 2017 A group on a Birthright Israel trip. Eating felafals at street market with friends and soldiers. Israel Experts, an Israel- based tour operator with an in-house logistics team made up of highly professional expe- rienced tour guides, has been running Birthright trips for over 16 years. The organiza- tion is currently recruiting for its winter trips. The following is a first person article from one of Israel Experts' past participants. Israel Experts asked a young man who had recently traveled through Israel on a Birthright trip, "What was you favorite part of Israel?" It's been the nonstop ques- tion that I have received since returning from my trip on June 25th, and I still don't think I have an answer to it. I didn't have any expectations when I left for Israel on June 11th from JFK. I didn't know anyone on the trip, I wasn't expecting to "find myself," I wasn't looking to change my identity in any way, I just wanted to see a land that I had never been to and to eat a lot of good food. There are a few things that I should preface my takeaway from Israel with. I grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother, I had a bar mitzvah and was confirmed, I have never and never plan on keeping kosher, I don't require myself to marry a Jewish wife but would like my kids to be Jewish, and I'm not sure if I believe in God. I think these are all important things to state because they are such commonly asked questions in the Jewish community,The other important de- yet in my opinion don't really tail of my experience of quantifyhow"Jewish"youare. Israel that I have brought I remember growing up and back with me to the United having people tell me that be- States is the fact the media cause my morn wasn't Jewish does not depict Israel in a thatIwasn'tfullyJewish, yetI fair or truthful way. This have never considered myself first occurred to me on the anything else. second day of our trip while I think that a better ques- we were floating rafts down tion to ask, rather than"what a river in the north of Israel. was your favorite part of Is- I felt safe throughout my rael" would be "what was the entire trip, even during my most important part of your extendedtimewhilewalking trip to Israel." They are very the streets of TelAviv and Je- similar questions and I'm still rusalem at 2 a.m. I have told notsureifIcancomeupwith everyone that I have talked just one answer, however, it to about my experience that implies getting something of in no way is it like what we worth out of the experience see on TV or hear about on rather than just enjoying it. the news, the reality is that I had a great time hanging it is a beautiful country full on the beach in Tel Aviv, eat- of amazing food, people and ing food from the markets in culture and everyone should Jerusalem, and playing soc- go visit as soon as possible. I cer with new Israeli friends actually just received a text on Shabbat, but those were (July 26th) from one of my fun times, not necessarily best friends from college important. (who is not Jewish) saying What I believe to have been that he booked a two-week the most important part of my visit in October after we have trip was visiting the Kibbutz spent so much time talking at Nahal Oz, which is approxi- about my trip. mately800metersfromGaza. I could keep on writing A kibbutz where much of the about my stay in Israel be- population has left because cause I think there were so during the last time of war many important moments, it was mortared roughly 40 yet my important moments times a day, with only about are probably vastly different three seconds to seek cover from everyone else's. Maybe afterhearingthealarmgooff, that's the main takeaway of if itwent off. The 16-year-old the trip, that even though brother of our tour guide, the 45 people on the trip have Noam Dahary, voluntarily different backgrounds and movedtothiskibbutzinorder various levels of religious- to maintain a young popula- ness, Israel can teach us all tion that would help with the something about each other upkeep of the community, and ourselves. I don't know despite the inherent danger what you will get out of your of living in an area so close first or next trip to Israel, so to the Gaza Strip. Hearing just go and find out. his story put the differences If you are between the ages of Israeli youth andAmerican of 18-27 and have at least one youth into perspective and al- Jewish parent, join Israel Ex- lowed me to think of the true perts this winter for a Birth- difficultiesthatpeoplemaybe right Israel trip of a lifetime. facing in their daily lives. The Spend 10 days riding camels, behavior of Noam's brother is eating falafel, visiting the reflective of the type of self- Western Wall, meeting Israeli sacrifice and sense of corn- localswanderingthestreetsof munity that is so unique to Tel Aviv and so much more. Israel.Ihavetraveledtomany Register soon since spots different countriesaroundthe fill up quickly- www.absolute- world, however, nowhere have I felt the sense of national For questions please email pride and community more or than in Israel. call 1-800-218-9851. MED CA ALERT Basking on the rocks at the waterfalls in Ein Gedi. experienced from side effects such as Ketoacidosis caused by Re Type 2 Diabetes medication Invokana? You may be entitled to Compensation. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE KETOACIDOSIS, KIDNEY FAILURE, HEART AI"rACK, STROKE, COMA OR DEATH. IFw lamBe