[Note: eight Israeli peers spend five days as full participants in our trip. Because of Israel's mandatory military/national service, they are active soldiers, though they are with our trip as participants, not as soldiers. Students regularly count their relationships with these Israelis, and the perspectives they acquire as a result, as among the highlights of their Birthright experience.
[Another note: our students are broken into clusters, or "families," during the trip. Each family is submitting a blog entry. This blog is from "The Goldbergs."
On Friday morning, the Goldbergs got a new addition: Yoni! He's our 21 year-old Israeli soldier and is super interesting. For example, he said he would rather fight a horse-sized duck than 100 duck-sized horses.
After meeting the soldiers, we went to the Old City and the Western Wall. The whole entire day was such a spiritual and emotional experience. We're truly thankful for the opportunity to learn so much about Jerusalem and the people who live there. One of our favorite moments was seeing a bunch of young kids playing soccer in their schoolyard after we had just learned about a young soldier who was shot in the War of Independence. It reminded us to be grateful for peace in Jerusalem's Old City.
Being Shabbat, last night and today were very laid back, yet informative. Most of our Goldberg family attended a traditional, Sephardic Shabbat service early this morning, which really opened our eyes to the reality of gender roles in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism. The women aren't allowed to chant and are forced to be blocked off from the men in the back of the synagogue. Even though it was a different experience, compared to our Reform services back in the US, we're very happy we decided to go.
Overall, being in Israel has made us realize the connection we have with our homeland. Peace 'n blessings. - The Goldbergs: Audrey Lipschutz (App State), Oliver Mitchell-Boyask (UNC Chapel Hill), Amy Cohen (UNC Chapel Hill), Lydia Safir (NC State), Gabrielle Geenen (UNC Chapel Hill), Yoni Selzer (Israeli peer)
Birthright Israel blog posts are written by individual students and may not represent the opinion or position of North Carolina Hillel.