When A West Coaster Meets Israel
Brandy Grant is a 22 year-old student from Huntington Beach that joined our West Coast trip for participants between 22-27
Brandy Grant is a 22 year-old student from Huntington Beach, California. She is currently in her last semester at California State University where she is studying Child Development, Family Life Education and Consumer Affairs. Brandy joined our West Coast trip since her original trip with another provider was cancelled and as she puts it, "it all worked out far better than I had ever hoped"!
I only found out about Birthright Israel 4 months before I decided to sign up for the trip. I heard about it once and started asking around. I found out my cousins who live in another state both did Birthright, so I decided to take the plunge into this adventure and signed up for my trip.
On my birthday, in October, I received an email saying my original trip was canceled. I cried and had to call the people at Israel Experts to help me, which they did and got me on another trip, the West Coast trip for participants between 22-27, within the hour. Lucky for me because all my coworkers got me gifts for Israel, so that would have been awkward!
Flash forward to a few days before the trip. I did a lot of research and attended the information meeting prior so I thought I was well prepared. I helped others out and already started getting to know the people on my trip.
The plane ride was long, but I got to make friends with the couple people I sat next to. When we arrived in Israel it was already like all of us knew each other and we were all comfortable talking with each other.
Throughout the trip we explored places that some people held sacred while others appreciated the scenery or the architecture instead. We enjoyed each other’s company and spent every waking moment with one another.
I twisted my ankle coming down Masada and had to toughen up and hop and drag my ankle down the rest of the windy snake path road. It was the most exerting activity I have ever done. It pushed me to limits and forced me to rise above them to make it down the mountain. Fight or flight kicked in and I had to other choice but to fight, so that’s what I did.
After touring Mount Herzl, the Israeli soldiers that we had only known for 5 days began to leave, and everyone started to cry as we had to say goodbye. We became so close to these 8 Israelis and we had only known them for a few days.
We all became so close and so connected that it was hard to say goodbye. I learned so much through the guest speakers and bus ride conversations. None of it was biased or geared towards one side, as everything was all purely educational and factual. I made some life-long friends on this trip, and we all still communicate every day.
I realized the importance of aliyah and believe that Birthright brings Jews to Israel not because they want more people to go there, but because they know how hard the world can be for people who feel misplaced and without a home. Israel is and will always be a home to me. It is the land my people came from and the land some could return to. Though I may never move to Israel myself, I can say that I will visit the Homeland again in the future. I will show my family what I saw and show them the wonders of a country most people do not understand.
In the final discussion, someone said “Everyone always told me to go on Birthright, it will change your life. When I asked them how they said it just will, do it. I was hesitant on what they meant, but now I know. I can’t explain. It wasn’t just what we did, but it was all of you (us) sharing the experience together”.
We became a family in only ten days and learned about a culture we all belonged too yet many of us knew almost nothing about. Of course, some days were less pleasant that others, and being young adults we naturally complained a lot, and probably stressed out our tour guide and leaders every day. They were always a positive influence and wanted us to all have the best experience.
All I have to say is, go on Birthright, it will change your life. You’ll meet friends and create a family with people who share the same culture as you!