We just landed. This is the saddest landing of my life. I was soaring from the moment we left 10 days ago until now. My spirits have come down 30,000 feet with the plane.
I feel that I learned more about human beings than about Judaism and Israel on this trip. One could argue I didn’t learn about humans, but rather I learned about Jews. Regardless, I learned about people. And I must say how much I love people, and being one myself. Before this trip I had notions that were so wrong, and I am so glad to be free of them.
I will not be able to hit everything, but here is an example. I think I had been putting those around me on a bit of a pedestal/putting myself down a little. There’s no need. Behind whatever facades exist we all have the same flaws and insecurities. That is what makes us human and what allows us to have things in common and interact. Everyone on this trip exhibited the honesty that showed these insecurities and they were accepted because of them. That I will say is an intrinsic Jewish quality, being accepting.
In prior posts I questioned what it was that allowed us to speak so freely with each other and to become so close. Some people said that they were much more outgoing on this trip than normally, more confident. I’d say me included. But why? It couldn’t be so simply the mentality “What happens in Israel stays in Israel”. That’s just not enough. Perhaps the idea that in 10 days we’ll never see each other again and if we do make fools of ourselves we only have to live with it until end of the trip. If so, How can we bring this attitude throughout life with us? Obviously, it makes us all so much better, so much fuller. Because of it, our friendships were sweeter and our conversations more open. Because we didn’t worry about what ramifications our actions had, we were totally ourselves and totally friends.
In the beginning, looking around at everyone I saw a blur of faces. Names didn’t stick and it was just a bunch of guys and girls, like a black and white movie. But now the people I see are in color. Every person I look at has so much depth to them. I see Carissa and Zach and Emma and Josh not just that tall guy and whatsherface. Unfortunately, it would be so much easier to say goodbye to whatserface rather than Sarah or Hillary.
For me, I’ll always have the memory of this trip on me. This memory lies in the one souvenir I got for myself, a golden Jewish star necklace. Within this star lies my faith, my heritage, my country, my people, my God, and my memory of this trip. Sounds like quite a heavy necklace. But it isn’t. Rather than weighing me down, it is these things that raise me up and bring me to be who I am.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I will miss so dearly the people on this trip who helped me to discover and discovered with me so much about Israel, about life, and about ourselves. In the beginning I said I didn’t think that birthright would change me. I was wrong. People are as beautiful as the rolling hillsides and vast deserts of the Israeli landscape. It is with these people that I live, and part of these people that I am, and I am so thankful for it.
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