Jacob (left) enjoys sufganiyot with Israeli soldier, Eli (right).
Jacob (left) explores Tel Aviv with fellow UVA student Lyndsay (center) and Israeli soldier, Amit (right).
"I came to realize that being a Jew goes beyond going to services and celebrating the holidays; it means being part of an international and intergenerational community that looks out for each other."
Fourth Year student from Pittsburgh, PA.
"Growing up in a large Jewish community, I always planned on going to Israel through Birthright. Before arriving, I envisioned seeing the famous sites such as the Western Wall and Masada, but I did not anticipate the genuine connections I would build with both the Israelis and the Americans on the trip.
Even though I played the role of tourist and enjoyed visiting such a beautiful country, spending time in Israel taught me lessons about myself that will stay with me longer than any photo. I came to realize that being a Jew goes beyond going to services and celebrating the holidays; it means being part of an international and intergenerational community that looks out for each other.
As a former member of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a gunman killed 11 of my neighbors in 2018, I struggled to understand how to best practice my faith in an a world that can appear unfriendly to Jews. When one of the Israeli soldiers on the trip told me “You, and all other Jews, will always have a home in Israel”, I felt a sense of safety and belonging.
Going on Birthright has encouraged me to find a community to continue these conversations in Washington, D.C. where I will be working after I graduate. I look forward to staying in touch with my new American and Israeli friends, and I hope that other young Jews can learn about their other “home” in Israel."
The Brody Jewish Center
Hillel at the University of Virginia
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Charlottesville, Va - 22903
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The Brody Jewish Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.