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2011 Birthright Israel NEXT DC Leadership Mission

Day 7: The Impact of Birthright

Posted by: youngleadership
June 20, 2011 at 10:49 AM

As we near the end of our trip, through countless discussions, both structured and during our own free time, we believe the first Birthright trip achieved its goal with the members of this bus and has led to good both personally and for the Jewish community. 

Through our discussions with the CEO and the Director of Education for Taglit Birthright Israel, Shabbat with the Taglit-Birthright Israel: DC Community trrip, and through the shared experiences of the members of this bus, we have gained a greater appreciation for the impact the Birthright Israel program has on the Jews around the world and for the country of Israel.  Knowing how meaningful Birthright is for its participants, how does one go about thanking the people responsible for this transformational gift?

When a waiter brings you a glass of water, you say ‘thank you’ to him or her.  When your roommate cleans up your apartment you say ‘thank you.’  But what do you say to someone who has given you a gift that completely changes your outlook on the world, a gift that changes your identity, a gift that strengthens and solidifies your place in the Jewish world?  “Thank You” is simply not enough.

This is an issue that many of us on the Alumni Leadership Mission are wrestling with right now.  This week we have met some of these generous people and families, and have had the privilege to spend all week with two of them, that make Birthright and the Alumni Leadership Mission possible.  To say thank you to these people does not do justice for what they have given us.  What other word exists that can appropriately convey the level of gratitude that we feel for them? 

I believe that the answer to that question does not lie in our words but rather in our actions.  Having been the recipient of these gifts, now I have to go do something with it. Our impact projects are just a start. Continuing to be a steward of the Jewish community and Israel is also a necessary next step.  And hopefully one day I can return the favor to Jewish young professionals as they too, shape their Jewish identity.

Nathan Adelman, Arlington, VA

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