14 years ago, us Jewish kids had it rough. We didn’t have such an important choice to make, but as a famous Rabbi once said, “times, they are a changing’.” Fine, he wasn’t a Rabbi, but definitely a beloved fellow Jew! Today, when Jewish kids approach college, and even beyond, they are faced with possibly one of the most important Jewish decisions they will ever have to make! And, at the young age of 18, thousands of Jewish students get to make that decision each year.

What is that? Well, of course, to go or not to go… That is the question! The “Taglit-Birthright Israel” question.

Pugatch, Lauren 2

You surely have heard this before but I will say it again: your Taglit-Birthright: Israel trip will change your life and open you up to new experiences.

And so, in light of Birthright’s Summer Registration next week (Feb. 19), I have created a two-part series, a how-to guide, if you will, to help you figure out what you want and how to get it. If you are anything like I was before the trip, your inbox is probably exploding with emails from different trip providers. All this leads us to ask, how do you choose a trip?

Before you travel, before you even sign up with a provider, you must ask yourself some important questions, starting with…

What type of experience am I looking for?

In life, we are all looking for something, and when we travel it is no different. Israel has it all: incredible scenery & hiking, beaches, historical landmarks, interesting people, a rich culture and delicious food. A Taglit-Birthright: Israel trip has the added bonus of giving you a chance to meet Israelis and learn something about yourself, your heritage—and Israel.

But, you should ask yourself, what is most important to you when you visit Israel? Nightlife or learning, culture or nature? Meeting new friends or keeping the old?

Each trip provider has its own focus, although all groups visit certain places, such as Yad VaShem and the Western Wall. While each trip is amazing in its own right, getting a balance was the most important thing for me. I wanted to try it all, so I chose Mayanot. I got to pray in Jerusalem, rock Tel Aviv, run around outside, make new friends from the USA and meet Israelis. I floated in the Dead Sea and hiked the Golan. I explored my Jewish heritage and got to know myself a little bit better. On my trip, I met so many wonderful people and learned that everyone has his or her own story.

Enough about me, what about you? What do you want to experience when you come to Israel?

Next on the agenda (and next time): How to decide who to travel with. Do you want to make new friends or keep the old–or even both?

Yellow

Photo Courtesy of Ali Krifchin