According to Rabbi and Jewish scholar Mahir Reiss, having the opportunity to take a Taglit Birthright Israel trip is a once in a lifetime adventure. Not only does it teach the young people more about their religion, it enables them to get up close and personal with it in a life-changing way. Here, Rabbi Mahir Reiss shares some of the reasons why young people should consider going on the Taglit Birthright trip.
This is not simply an adventure in Israel, Rabbi Reiss explains. Though the voyage is exciting and the participants enjoy themselves immensely, it is meant to be an educational and spiritual experience. The mission of the Taglit Birthright Israel organization is to strengthen the Jewish identity and their communities, the organization’s website explains. This is done by providing young Jewish people ages 18 to 26 with the opportunity to enjoy a ten day experience through Israel.
According to the organization’s website, more than 350,000 people have been able to take advantage of the trip and visited Israel. The trip was originally offered only to college students in the U.S. and Canada; however, it has become so popular since its debut in 1999, that now the trip is offered to people in 64 countries and the organization has expanded the age requirement.
There are many unforgettable moments for participants to experience throughout the entire trip, says Mahir Reiss. While on the trip, participants have a chance to visit many places they’ve only heard about in the Torah. Some locations include Masada, swimming in the Dead Sea, riding a camel through the desert, visiting the Sea of Galilee, and exploring Tel Aviv.
Samantha DiBenedetto had the chance to go on the trip and is now encouraging others to take advantage of the opportunity on Thought Catalog. She adds, You wake up the day after Shabbat night anxiously calling your mom to explain to her how Israel has changed your life and how you have to extend your trip.
For another participant, this experience was the best gift she could ever receive. She says, “The level of comfort and security I felt there will never be matched anywhere else. It is an indescribable feeling to set for on foreign land and feel at ease with myself and with forty Jewish strangers. For me, the Holy Land has become the Happy Land.”
Rabbi Mahir Reiss adds that Taglit Birthright Israel makes sure that the trip is safe and conflict free, as it is led by knowledgeable and dedicated individuals. It is important to keep the participants in the safest conditions at all times, he explains.
One would think it would be an expensive trip, Rabbi Mahir Reiss continues, but that is not the case. The organization offers these trips at no charge to the participants.
The Taglit Birthright Israel organization hopes that these experiences will not only motivate these young people to continue pursuing their faith, but also encourage them to make lasting friendships and connections with their peers and the Jewish population worldwide. Mahir Reiss, Jewish scholar and Rabbi, encourages his students to try to go, stating, “It is a remarkable once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Ryann Carlson contributed to this article.