|At the Western Wall|
|Riding on a camel|
|Riding on a donkey|
|With my two tour guides|
|Overlooking the Sea of Galilee|
The primary reason I wanted to go on this trip and visit Israel (and a special bonus was that it was free, so I did not have to run it by my parents for much of a financial green-light) was that, in my journey towards greater Jewish involvement and observance, I had heard many people referencing specific places in Israel and I had no way of referencing them. Even if I were to research them or look them up on a map, I still had no way of really connecting with them, aside from actually visiting Israel and getting a sense of what it was like. So, the primary reason I wanted to go was to connect with this piece of my heritage.
The trip on which I had decided to go was being led by NCSY and the rabbi who was the trip leader was Rabbi David Felsenthal, whom I had know from my time in Columbus, who is a jovial and kind rabbi. Also, since it was being an Orthodox-run trip, it would be single-sex, so it was an entirely male trip, with no females, whatsoever.
There was another interesting element to our trip: since the Second Intifada had started, there were many people who, due to the increasing amount of terrorist attacks, either decided not to go, or their parents decided for them not to go, so we ended up with a very small trip attendance. We ended up with only 16 participants on our Birthright Israel trip, since everybody else had decided not to come on our trip. This, of course, made for a much more intimate trip, with such a small number of participants.
Since the trip I attended was over 13 years ago, I sadly don't recall much about our trip. However, there are some aspects I do recall. When I visited the Western Wall, I had expected to have an epiphanic emotional moment as I had heard so many people previously experience, yet I was sorely disappointed when I did not experience it. Nevertheless, I was glad that I got to be there and visit it, myself.
|Sitting on a tank at Latrun|
|At a waterfall at Ein Gedi|