Hi all – I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day holiday weekend. As some of you might already know, three years ago I became a “Big Brother” in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. With both of my kids being “grown up” at that time, I still wanted to be able to be a mentor to another young person who lived nearby.
With the organization, I was fortunate to be matched with a very shy and introverted 10-year-old Jewish kid named Steven. Steven lost his father due to a heart attack the year before our match and was having trouble with anger and adjustment issues. The week before our first meeting, he fell off his bike and fractured both of his arms.
My first reaction was something along the lines of, “man, how do I entertain a shy child with two broken arms?” My original plan of playing baseball and basketball with him went out the window. Luckily, going to the movies was an option.
Fast forward to today, we are still together and became best friends. We share a love for sports and, by me sharing my travel stories with him, I’m learning that he has also developed an interest in travel. During one of our recent travel conversations, he expressed an interest in visiting Israel, and I was determined to help him put together a plan for a future trip.
During my research, I came across an organization that offers free birthright trips to Israel. While Taglit-Birthright Israel has been around for quite some time now (I remember Angelina’s college roommate taking the trip), there are now two other birthright trips that are offered as a result of Birthright Israel – Greece and Armenia.
Before you all get too excited, let me start off by saying that the trip is geared towards 18-26 year old young adults. The rest of us have to wait for the next mistake fare like Angie and others took advantage off earlier this year. Angie loved Israel; however, she did not like the “El Al “ security experience one bit. Ask Angie to blog about it; it’s very interesting…
Now back to some more information about Taglit-Birthright Israel (taken directly from the organization’s website):
So what does the gift cover?
The Taglit-Birthright Israel gift covers round trip airfare (from designated cities), hotel accomodations, transportation, at least two meals per day and other associated land costs (such as admission to sites) for 10-day trips to Israel offered by approved Trip Organizers. Gratuities, personal purchases, and travel / medical insurance are not included.
Who is eligible?
The Taglit-Birthright Israel gift is open to all Jewish young adults, ages 18 to 26, post high-school, who have neither traveled to Israel before on a peer educational trip or study program nor have lived in Israel past the age of 12. Eligible individuals are those recognized as Jewish by the Jewish community or by one of the recognized denominations of Judaism. Applicants must also have at least one Jewish birth parent, or have completed Jewish conversion through a recognized Jewish denomination, and identify as Jewish while not actively practicing another religion. For even more information, see a full listing of eligibility guidelines.
Have any readers had a chance to participate in any of these trips? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience. If you have yet to participate or perhaps you’re not eligible yourself, I hope you know someone that can benefit from this post.
As an Italian-born dad, I believe everyone should one day see their heritage country because before you can go forward in life, you have to be humbled and see where you came from.