“Your greatest work is to show up!”
You want to see what it’s like to live in Spain, but heard the language barrier is tough? Show up, buy a plane ticket, a dictionary, and connect to how you feel.
You want to date, but your roommates say only weirdos are on apps? Show up, download JSwipe, and swipe for yourself.
You want to run a marathon, but heard it is too hard? Show up, start jogging, and your body will tell you.
If there is something you’re interested in, the best and highest standard of understanding is to show up and experience it for yourself.
This phrase is one of my most used lines. As an educator, I travel around the world guiding groups in meditation workshops rooted in positive psychology and emotional intelligence. In addition to that I have many 1:1 clients for personal development, I lead retreats and speak at festivals and conferences. What I’ve learned is there are 8 billion people in this world. This means there are 8 billion different ways to eat for optimum health, 8 billion different ways to meditate, and 8 billion different ways to show up.
When I was 17 I decided I wanted to lead trips to Israel and help people connect to the best version of themselves (while eating hummus, of course). Now, 10 years later, I spend winters and summers leading 10-day spiritual niche Birthright trips to Israel. Birthright Israel is a journey for any Jew, ages 18-32 years old, to travel to Israel and explore the country with 40 other international Jews and 10 Israelis. Participants in my group are guided by a tour educator, another staffer, and me.
My role on these trips is to facilitate programing on Jewish identity, Israeli culture, and the geopolitical situation while reminding everyone to hydrate. I also share meditation and deep moments of meaning underneath the desert stars and within mountainous caves. Little by little participants are grateful that they showed up for this journey and learn new ways they can show up for themselves.
Birthright allows you to remove yourself from your everyday rituals, such as your job or classes, your comfort zone, social group, and who you are at home. You step into a different — dare I say — better version of yourself. This journey opens each individual up to new ideas about who they are at their core and how they want to live this life. Each person is presented with the opportunity to participate in Shabbat, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, the Dead Sea and Masada, Jerusalem’s Old City, learn about conflict within Israel and its neighbors, and experience Bedouin hospitality in the desert. Participants are also encouraged to ask questions of their staff and peers.
Birthright has gotten to a point where close-mindedness isn’t an option. The journey seeks to provide a forum for a wide range of experiences and discussion. Colorfulness, and questions are appreciated and your opinion matters. Over the years, I have been thankful to witness the open, educational platform that Birthright fosters — one that encourages individuals to make their own decisions draw their own conclusions. All you have to do is show up for the opportunity. A positive Birthright journey looks like a confused face, an unsure smile, and more questions than answers. Such is the love for Israel. Birthright is designed to make you question what you already know about Israel, while eating falafel and having honest conversations with your peers.
We live in a time where forming your own opinion is encouraged and necessary. Every person with a social media outlet has become a megaphone for their own brand or cause. The hope is that each person takes the chance to begin forming their own opinion about Israel and doesn’t simply accept an agenda that they heard from a friend’s sister’s roommate’s cousin. Birthright challenges you to not be a bystander, to show up for your experience, and to come to your own conclusions.
Your greatest challenge and work is to show up. Hear, smell and taste the Land and meet its people, and if you’d like, extend your stay and visit other places that the trip doesn’t take you, whether it might be Haifa to the north, Eilat to the South, or Ramallah to the east.
But first and foremost…Show up!