A free trip to Israel? Uhh, yes please.
Taglit-Birthright Israel is fast becoming a staple of the Jewish American young adult experience. And even though every trip is unique and totally the best group/bus EVER, there are some things that no Birthrighter can avoid doing – they unite Birthright participants everywhere, across the more than a decade of Birthright Israel trips.
And whaddya know? Registration for Summer 2014 trips, including Chicago community trips organized by JUF through Shorashim, open today for returning applicants and Wednesday for new applicants! If you’ve already experienced these 18 glorious things, pass this along to someone who has still yet to go!
1. Become giddy with excitement the moment you pass through customs.
And then contain it, because you don’t want anyone to think you’re going to be the trip weirdo.
2. Eat excessive amounts of falafel and shawarma, drowned in hummus.
Because it’s sooo much better than what you get in the States. And because you have no idea what anything else is and whether it’s edible.
3. Declare your trip guide the coolest and smartest human being on the planet.
You will never know this much about anything.
4. Take this picture in front of a waterfall.
If a hike doesn’t end in a waterfall, it’s just not worth hiking.
5. Ponder your very existence at the Kotel.
It looks so much bigger than it did in that video you watched in Hebrew school.
6. Drink at the hotel bar.
How often depends on how old you are – i.e. how recently you turned 18.
7. Ask yourself why there are so many cats.
Well, it’s quite interesting, actually. The British brought cats to Palestine because of a mice problem, but didn’t spay/neuter them, and then somehow forgot to round up these free-roaming, fertile cats to take them back when all the mice disappeared. Then they had babies. Oops.
8. Gravitate to the nearest Aroma because you are inexplicably obsessed with their iced coffee slushies.
You might not remember a single Hebrew phrase from your trip, except for “ice-kafeh, b’vakasha.”
9. Wish your trip called for more time in Tel Aviv.
“Umm, I think we missed that big piece of Israeli history over there by that beach. Or was it that nightclub?” Yallah Balagan!
10. Take this picture atop Masada.
The most meaningful sunrise in your tiny little Jewish life.
11. Take this picture at the Dead Sea.
Plus, you worked really hard to be bathing-suit ready for this trip and you want proof.
12. Sleep on the bus. All. The. Time.
It’s very exhausting ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people.
13. Name your camel. Then take this picture.
Although 95 percent of the time you keep taking this picture:
Thanks, C____ the Camel.
14. Struggle to sleep in a Bedouin tent.
How can you sleep on the ground? … with all your new best friends right next to you!
15. Summon all your courage to haggle with an Israeli vendor and fail miserably.
Because you’ll always get a good deal when you speak English, wear a backpack and have a giant American nametag around your neck.
16. Hoard Israeli candy and snacks.
It’s authentic, Israeli merchandise you simply can’t get in America.
17. Buy gifts for people at the airport before going home, mostly to get rid of leftover shekels.
Better yet, give your shekels as gifts and encourage the recipients to go to Israel! Yay!
18. Have an amazing time.