When My Family Grew To Forty
On December 26th, 2016 Meredith Diskin, originally from Houston, Texas, boarded a plane with 38 other Americans en route to the Holy Land
Meredith Diskin, originally from Houston, Texas, is a 26-year old student at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi where she is earning her docterate degree in Marine Biology. Meredith loves to hike, bike and snorkel which is exactly why she chose the Israel Adventure trip with Israel Experts!
On December 26th, 2016 my best friend and I boarded a plane with 38 other Americans en route to the Holy Land. We were both apprehensive about our Birthright Israel trip on Israel Adventure with Israel Experts. How chaotic were the next 10 days going to be? Were we going to be able to sleep? How can you really get to know 38 other people in 10 days? Little did we know that 40 people can become a family in 10 days and this was going to be some of the best 10 days of our lives.
Over the next few days, we got to know each other’s names, faces and background. Between icebreakers and casual conversation we started to become a close-knit group. The activities we did and the cities we toured together only made us closer. The bike ride through Agamon-Hula was filled with laughter, beautiful views and the occasional falling over. The view of Syria from the top of Har Bental made us all reflect upon our lives back home and how blessed we are. We howled with laughter during our Cards Against Humanity game with over 20 people. We became closer to Judaism and each other during our special Shabbat ceremony.
By the time the Israelis joined us, we had grown to be a very bonded group. The Israelis only solidified that. They taught us about Israeli slang words, Israeli games and good Israeli food. As we got to know the Israelis, we realized how different our lives were compared to theirs. None of us had been in the army or had lost close friends in battle. Our lives were not influenced by war. However, we also realized that we shared many similarities. We were all 20-something year olds who were just trying to find our passions in life while having fun along the way. We liked the same music, the same movies and the same food. It was truly amazing how we could grow up so differently from each other, but still feel the same love for them as we did each other. When the Israelis had to leave, there was barely a dry eye in the room. We said our sweet goodbyes and headed on to enjoy the rest of Israel. The reality of having to say goodbye to each other was slowly setting in, but we still had a few more days before that had to happen.
Over the next few days, we slept in Beduoin tents, rode camels, hiked Masada, snorkeled in the Red Sea and toured the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv markets. One of the most memorable activities we did, however, was our hike up Har Tzafahot, a mountain overlooking Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and the Red Sea. We did not know how difficult this hike would be going into it, but we quickly learned. We leaned on each other a lot to get up this mountain. We never let someone fall far behind and pushed each other to the top. That made it all the more enjoyable when everyone arrived at the top to take in the magnificent view. Some of us had never climbed a mountain before, which made it extra special. We really bonded as a group that day.
When the time came to say our goodbyes, we had become family. We shared deep experiences and became closer to Israel and our religion through the help of each other. Whether we knew it or not, we had each changed since we first arrived in Israel. We became better people through those 10 days and shared memories that we will never forget. This was the trip of a lifetime and we were so blessed to have shared it with each other. I am forever thankful to Israel Experts for allowing me to go on this trip and for introducing me to 38 new best friends. We may never be all together at the same time again, but we will always share this experience. I can only hope that others get to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as well.