An Israeli Soldier’s Perspective on Birthright with Rutgers Hillel
By Staff Sergeant Tomer Hadar, Israel Defense Forces
Rutgers Hillel Taglit-Birthright 1/9/2014 – 1/13/2014
Usually I’m not one to write and express their feelings after a trip or unusual experience. I have experienced many different things in my short life of 23 years. I have visited a lot of countries, engaged in various military operations and explored places I never dreamed that I would go.
I can tell you, plain and simple – the Rutgers Hillel Taglit-Birthright trip for me was the strongest experience of all. From an Israeli perspective, Taglit-Birthright was created for the Jews of the world, to give them an opportunity to come and get to know my country closely and explore their Judaism. What I did not expect is that during my time on Taglit-Birthright, I was also exposed to the content and emotions that students were experiencing. Places and stories I already knew about the state and about religion, were opened up to me in new ways. Old feelings were awakened and new ones were created. I found myself more emotionally tied to Israel, Zionism, our state history and its legacy. Before Taglit–Birthright, I knew all of these things because I had to, and after Taglit-Birthright, I can say that I am proud of our country and the legacy of a Jewish nation. I saw how students really feel a connection to the state, its history, and our religion. Little things like a Jewish name ceremony for those without one, Kabbalat Shabbat services, and the Bar Mitzvah ceremony made this experience powerful on an extraordinary level. I understood the importance of Taglit-Birthright when students started telling me that they want to return to visit Israel, and some even want to work and live here.
Taglit-Birthright for me was one of the most powerful experiences I have experienced. I met amazing people and skilled, caring staff. Rutgers Hillel Jewish Agency Israel Fellow, Avia Prins, was with us the whole time and she understood both the Israeli and American view on everything we did. Rutgers Hillel’s Executive Director, Andrew Getraer, communicated both a religiosity and an approachability and friendliness that we all enjoyed. Our British guide, Jeremy Aron, seemed to know the country and Judaism better than any other Jew who lives in Israel.
I was honored to participate in Taglit-Birthright and I recommend this experience to everyone – Jews, non-Jews, students, soldiers – it doesn’t matter.
Keep on running this important trip that is changing people’s lives.
Registration for the Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel – Rutgers University Trip (leaving May 19, 2014) opens on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 10 am ET. Previous applicants can begin registering on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 12 pm ET. To register, visit www.freeisraeltrip.org and use the referral code “Rutgers”.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm in the LSC, room 109 (click here for facebook event)
Monday February 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm at Rutgers Hillel, 8 Bishop Place
Through the Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement, students strengthen their connections to Israel and the Jewish people. After they return from a transformational Birthright experience, students continue to explore their love for Israel. The Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement exposes students to positive messages about Israel to help them develop stronger Jewish connections to our homeland.
Please support Rutgers Hillel as we create the next generation of Jewish leaders and change the conversation about Israel on campus.