Birthright, Taglit

“Birthright” began in 1999 through a combination of funding from individual donors, the Israeli government, non-profit organizations, and private donors. Since then, more than 500,000 young people from 64 different countries have participated in the program. In December 2016, I traveled across Israel with my brother and sister on our birthright. The following images capture some of our experiences.

Misgav Am, a kibbutz in northern Israel on the border with Lebanon. In 1980, five terrorists entered the nursery killing a baby boy and the kibbutz secretary – holding the rest of the children hostage. Following an IDF raid, two kibbutz members and one soldier were killed, four children and 11 soldiers were wounded.
Driving Jeeps off-road between the Lebanese and Syrian borders alongside active mine fields. The location was less than a three-hour drive from the ISIS-controlled territory.
Our Birthright tour was accompanied by eight active duty soldiers with the Israeli Defense Forces.
Visiting Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The evening before our visit,  the group shared first-hand stories of grandparents and loved ones who hid from the Nazis or were killed in death camps.
Celebrating New Years Eve in Jerusalem with other Birthright groups.
Photography is forbidden during Shabbat, the seventh day of the week and holy day of rest. Taken clandestinely through a hole in the fence at the Western Wall.
At a playground/ bomb shelter in Sderot, Israel. The sign at the entrance says to enter and stay inside the dragon when the alarm sounds.
At Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery. Visiting the graves of Americans who joined the IDF and were killed in action defending Israel.
Harvesting freshly grown vegetables in the middle of the desert in southern Israel.
We celebrated all eight nights of Chanukah on the trip.
Climbing Mt. Masada where the story is told of Jews who massacred each other to avoid becoming slaves of the Romans.
The Dead Sea, the lowest place on dry land.
Our flights to and from Israel had layovers in Germany, a stark reminder of where the Jewish people have come as we freely travel to Israel.