This is wayyyy overdue.
You know why? Because first, I came back from my trip almost two months ago and I did start writing a blog post about it but for some reason I’ve never been able to finish it.
Somehow, whenever I would start typing that blog post I was just stuck. It’s not necessarily the content that I was writing that made me feel weird but more how I was writing it. It wasn’t true, it wasn’t me.
When I was writing it I was almost feeling awkward about it and just the thought of continuing that one particular post would make me feel anxious also.
But I really wanted to share how I felt about the trip. Really really really.
What I really want to share is what I’ve learned from the trip – which are the importance of connections and relationships.
Now, both are so different. When I say connections, I talk about connecting with people and with myself. When I talk about relationship for me, it’s with my culture, my spirituality and with Israel.
So I want to start actually with the connections that I was able to develop on birthright.
The trip helped me develop some serious deep connections with people that I never thought I would ever connect with. I believe the reason I was able to do so with so many people on so many different levels is because I was truly 100% myself for once. The whole trip was a safe space and I felt like I didn’t have to hide anything – such as how religious I am or not, which has always been a very big barrier for me to be myself within the Jewish community and outside of it actually.
So there are three types of connections that I feel are worth mentioning. *I just want to mention that I did experience some of these connections before but they are very meaningful to me because 1) they were made while I was being completely and 2) how quickly they developed still impresses me to this day.
The first connection is about a pure friendship connection. Now I’m not saying that the other three aren’t based of it connections but that particular one I’m currently writing about is the connection of the basics of friendship.
Nicole and I first met on the plane to Israel. I remember thinking that I was gonna be sitting with her for the next 11 hours and I was honestly so nervous about not having anything to talk about that I started asking some raaaandom questions. For those of you who know me, I’m fucking random and awkward sometimes. AND THAT’S HOW I WAS DURING THE WHOLE RIDE! Poor Nicole must’ve thought “why is this girl asking me about my favourite TV shows and meals” – I mean, I just wanted to break the ice, you know?!
It worked. It really did! Because after that, we were put together in a hostel room and we just had an absolute blast! I remember thinking “listen, you already made an ass of yourself during the plane ride, you’re most likely gonna be chilling with her for the next 10 days, might as well be yourself 100% cause she has no clue who you are” and it was fantastic! Turns out, she was as random and outgoing as I am! Throughout the whole trip we developed a great friendship bond. The point for this connection is that being yourself can lead you to discovering some amazing people.
The second connection is about connecting with someone who not only you feel like you’ve known her your whole life but the amount of learning you get from each other is so good.
Olivia is honestly one of the most genuine person I’ve met in a while. She is so real and so open with such a great heart. You really feel that she cares – and you know why? She does! She’s the kind of person who always puts herself in other people shoes and it was an amazing experience to meet her because – not that I feel that I’m that genuine – but when we had conversations, I truly felt connected and believed that I was really growing thanks to meaningful talks we had – and still do! Listening to her stories about going through some of the shockingly similar things that I went through was amazing – because I know that I can tell her anything and no judgement whatsoever will be held against me. I am so grateful that we are in constant touch and that I can always seek advice and comfort from her.
The third connection I made is probably the one I’m still the most surprised about. It’s about connecting with someone so much that the language barrier is no issue at all.
Elihai was one of the locals who was participating at Taglit (which is basically a program for Israelis to join the Birthright group for a few days so that they can connect with people their age from all over the world).
So, I don’t really speak Hebrew (beginner level since forever – AYYYY MAIMO) and he speaks a bit of English and obviously is fluent in Hebrew. We definitely were still able to discuss but the first few days he was there we didn’t really get a chance to speak. Although, throughout the week, we randomly started to talk more and more and more. We would share jokes, personal stories and you know what’s the most surprising part of this? We still do that constantly, which I believe is so cool because it just shows that language is not what withholds connections to exists. It also taught me how two people from completely different regions of the world can have such a great bond.
All these connections are very special to me and I smile like a goof whenever I think about each of them.
Now, for the relationships side of things, I realized that my relationship with spirituality is much more present than the one I’ve been trying to have with religion – not Judaism, religion.
For a very long time it was hard for me to accept that unlike some of my Jewish friends, I don’t completely believe in religion. No. Doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual or I’m not proud of my cultural heritage. I can assure you that I am way more respectful of traditions than some people who claim to be ultra religious. Lol oops, did I actually say that?
I love being Jewish. Yes, I do. I don’t think I’ve ever written that anywhere – but it’s something I’ve felt forever. I love my culture, I love family gatherings and I’m obsessed with my Sephardic traditions.
Going on Birthright taught me to value these relationships and to open myself up to the land that, let’s be honest, I’ve always felt very connected to. Not necessarily just because of Israel itself but probably because of the people there being so open to be themselves and celebrating their culture constantly. Because of all that, I felt at home over there and I miss it every fucking day.
There’s not one day that I don’t think about Israel – and it’s not necessarily because of one person or whatever – it’s everything. The people, the food, the music, the nature, the historical background – I love this country and I always have – it’s just that unfortunately I’ve never been open about it before now.
So, TL;DR – going on Birthright taught me that being myself is a good thing – cause I get to connect with people and with my culture more than I ever thought I could.