Birthright 2022 Recap

Our Birthright Trip
On July 3, 24 students, joined by Hillel SV staff, Sarita and Mitch, left San Francisco for a fabulous 10-day Birthright experience to Israel. Our first stop was in Tiberias which sits on the Kinneret, aka Sea of Galilee, and our hotel had a gorgeous view of the lake. We were joined in our journey by seven young Israelis currently serving in the IDF. The soldiers integrated seamlessly with the rest of the group. Our group also included our tour guide, driver, and medic.
On our first full day, we cooled off from the hot Israel weather by walking through a lagoon teeming with wildlife shaded by a natural canopy of eucalyptus groves. Later that day we went Jordan River rafting, cruising downstream in refreshing waters.  
Participants have been learning about Jewish history, tradition, and culture. From the mysticism of Tzfat to the religious significance of Jerusalem. We learned by day and rejoiced by night. In Tzfat, we were invited to our tour guide’s home for a delicious Tunisian light meal, followed by Ladino festival in the center of town. We enjoyed a joyful celebration of Ladino culture filled with music, food, street entertainers, and more. The next day we visited a naval base at the Port of Haifa and toured the base and the ships. This was followed by an afternoon driving ATV’s or riding horses before continuing to Jerusalem.
After a walking tour of the Old City of Jerusalem and a spiritual visit at the Kotel (Western Wall), the participants experienced the bustle of Mahane Yehuda, the open-air market as Israelis do their weekly shopping in preparation for Shabbat. The next day, after Shabbat, we returned to experience the market’s nightlife. The students had a fantastic time! In between, students enjoyed the hotel’s pool, Shabbat and Havdalah blessings, and explored their Jewish identity values.  
On Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night), the participants had a free evening in Jerusalem. The next day, we discussed the history of antisemitism in preparation for the visit to Har Herzl, the National military cemetery, and Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum.
We left Jerusalem to head to the desert and spend a night in a Bedouin tent after a festive meal and bonfire (albeit without the fire because the winds were too strong). The next day we week woke up early to ascend Masada and view the sunrise over the ancient mountain-top fortress. We returned to the Bedouin tents for breakfast and an opportunity to feed and learn about the camels and then an afternoon floating in the Dead Sea.
We left the Negev to head back north for our final few days in Tel Aviv. We were treated to a special activity prepared by the Israeli soldiers in our group which helped us review much of what we experienced in Israel. While in Tel Aviv, we visited Save A Child’s Heart and met with the young patients who were recovering from heart surgeries. We spent the day at the beach and then enjoyed an upbeat experience called Guruzuzu where we wore headphones to listen to the same music playlist and dance through the streets of Tel Aviv. 
On our last day together, we held a wrap up session, and a graffiti tour of Tel Aviv. After a final group dinner, we said goodbye to our new Israeli friends and headed to the airport for our return home. About half of the group extended their stay in Israel for more great adventures before beginning their new school year, jobs or global opportunities.