Here is my “thank you” to a country that gave me an entirely new perspective.
Looking back on the past 21 years of my life, there are a handful of experiences that stick out to me as memories or moments that really changed me. But the one memory that is the most significant for me is the ten days I spent traveling a foreign country with my best friend; when Sarah and I packed our lives (and our overweight suitcases), unsure and kind of scared of what was to come. After a 10-hour flight, we made it to Israel!
Birthright changed me.
Everything about being in Israel was magical. The people. The places. The way that I felt every single day.
I was 5,000 miles removed, a seven-hour time change, and yet I didn’t yearn for my New Jersey home or the familiarity of a country where I could speak the native language. Because in a weird way, Israel felt “homey.” The people felt like my kind of people; like family members I just hadn’t seen in a really long time, but the moment we were reunited, everything just fell back into place effortlessly.
Yeah, Sarah and I thought about our families and boyfriends and the people we loved most every single day. But we also just had a mutual understanding that there would probably never be another 10 days that felt this right or where we felt this surrounded by love.
Neither of us could really pinpoint exactly what it was, but we just knew that this trip was changing us. We could feel it. Israel gave us an entirely new perspective.
One day, after a 5 a.m. wake up and a hike in 80-degree weather, we made it to the top of Mount Masada, along with all of our other group members. Sarah and I hugged and just talked about how “this was it.” We were so present in that moment.
So, to a country that (as much as I hate to admit), I was scared to travel to — thank you. You truly opened my eyes and gave me ten life-changing days, a new perspective, a forever home and forever friends. I’ll be back for you.