By Sarah Silver, Bus 2 Participant
Throughout the year as the Israel trip steadily crept closer and more people began asking me about my summer plans, I found that I kept answering the same question: why are you going to Israel for an entire month?
Each time I simply responded, “This is the year where everyone goes to Israel instead of camp”. While that original answer is still true, I’ve found that there are so many more reasons to travel with NFTY to Israel.
For starters, Israel itself is an incredible country. From the unique landscape to the various cities and kibbutzim, each day Israel provided new experiences and unforgettable sights. With the Negev Desert one week, the city of Tel Aviv another, and multiple visits to the Mediterranean and the Sea of Galilee, it’s amazing how you can travel just a few hours and find yourself in a completely different environment and climate.
Another remarkable aspect of NFTY in Israel is the variety of food. From the authentic falafel unlike any in America to the multiple home-cooked meals, Israel’s Mediterranean cuisine is truly something to write home about. Though we eat at the hostels and kibbutzim for most breakfasts and dinners, our pizurs, or opportunities to freely choose our own food, usually providing several dining options including schwarma, pita and hummus, schnitzel, and the famously-known falafel. Even after a month of feasting on these Mediterranean delicacies, Israel’s food selections are something I will definitely miss back home.
Something especially unique about traveling to Israel with camp is the opportunity to learn about our Jewish history in the place where it all happened. Rather than learning about the first temple and looking at pictures of the Western Wall at home, we went to the Kotel itself and experienced first hand what it was like living as a Jew in the time of the first temple. Additionally, the opportunity to learn about the other cultures and lifestyles in Israel is something special in itself. Whether it’s talking to a Hasidic man in an orthodox synagogue, or learning about the Druze people and their life in Israel, NFTY in Israel has provided so many unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
Finally, the most amazing part of this journey were the relationships built and the friendships created. Between meeting the Israeli teens that joined us for a week and interacting with the people in the several shops and towns, I created strong and powerful relationships that I will forever hold close to my heart. Even within camp itself, I started the month not knowing anyone from the other session. However, after a month of laughter, joy, and travel, I ended this trip with all of them as my best friends.
NFTY in Israel was one of the best experiences of my life, and I’m so thankful for everything I learned and the relationships I created. Although my trip may have ended, I encourage everyone who has the opportunity to travel with NFTY to Israel to take advantage of this unique and special experience.