Three Things You Should Do Daily
Meet One of Our Past Israel Adventure Participants
Marcus Confino is originally from Virginia, but is now living in Washington D.C. and working as an architectural designer. Marcus is an amateur photographer, hopeful writer and sports enthusiast. He is always searching for more ways to explore the world, which is why our Israel Adventure trip was the perfect fit for him! Read Marcus' blog to find out more about his awesome Birthrigtht Israel experience.
To My Sababa Mishpacha (Family),
There were many reasons we all went on this Adventure Israel Birthright trip. For some of us it was a chance to get out of our comfort zone and step out of our daily routine. For some of us it was to reconnect with our Jewish heritage. And maybe for others it was the opportunity to seriously explore Judaism for the first time.
When thinking about how to describe my ten days in Israel, I found myself drawn to the things that surprised me the most. I was surprised by how connected I felt to the land. I was surprised by how wrong my preconceptions of Israel were. I was surprised by how quickly our group bonded and came together (IR-35-280 represent!). But most of all I was surprised by the full range of emotions I felt throughout this amazing adventure.
Even before the trip was over the following quote came to mind as a way to describe the impact of this trip:
“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.” - Jim Valvano
I have read this quote many times in the past but I honestly don’t think I’ve actually experienced it or felt it before this Birthright trip. And let me tell you, over the course of these ten days, I did a lot of laughing, a lot of thinking, and yes, a lot of crying.
Take day 4 for example. I could have picked any day, but let’s pick day 4. Thursdays aren’t always powerful or particularly thought-provoking but this particular one was special because it was our visit to Yad Vashem- Israel's Holocaust museum. I’ll speak for myself but I have a feeling many others had similar reactions. It was heart-wrenching. It was emotionally draining. The horrific realities of the Holocaust were relentless. But it was all a part of a necessary journey. I followed the long, arduous path through building, listening to the stories, looking at the images, watching the film clips. I saw one of the most horrific periods of Jewish history playout right in front of my eyes. I’ll be the first to admit I felt more than a few tears roll down my face. I don’t think I’ve ever felt closer to humanity (and inhumanity) than when I was in Yad Vashem. And like any good mishpacha, we all had tissues at the ready and arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. We welcomed the challenge of carrying the truth and the stories forward for future generations. And when I stepped out into the light, the museum’s final exhibit lay before me: the hills of Jerusalem. As if to say: we are still here, the Jewish people lives. There is hope.
And, just like that, about ninety minutes later we were racing through the streets of the largest shuk in Jerusalem, tirelessly following Lavi, our energetic and dedicated guide, as he attempted to introduce us to every flavor in Israel! We tasted 4 styles of hummus, khachapuri (a delicious bread-bowl filled with cheese and egg), 3 types of bourekas, Trina, Knafeh, Malawah (Yemenis fried bread topped with various vegetables & meats), and a number of juices prepared by a very enthusiastic, lifelong juicer! And to top it all off we ended the tour with some world famous chocolate rugelach! I spent most of my time stuffing my face, passing food left and right, and trying not to get lost in the crowds! Those two hours were part authentic culinary food tour, part crazy American circus, but it was all full of fun and flavor!
After a day like that, I’m left asking: what if everyday were this exhaustively fulfilling? What if I could be this connected to my surroundings and this in tune with those around me, every single day? For me, what started out as a means of getting out of my daily routine, turned into learning about this amazing community of Jewish people with whom I share a common history and beginning to understand the miracle that is the state of Israel.
As Lavi continually reminded us, Judaism isn’t just a religion, it is a way of life. This Birthright Israel trip was a memorable introduction to that way of life.