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La_chica_gomela's avatar

Do you have any advice regarding Birthright Israel?

Asked by La_chica_gomela (12547points) August 6th, 2008

I’m asking those who have been on Birthright, or know something about it, not generic travel advice. I’m looking for advice about which season to go in, what organization to go with, and one other issue (see below).

I heard it’s not that cold in the winter, except in Jerusalem. Confirm or deny, anyone?

A few other details: I would consider myself reform, but I do enjoy many aspects of the conservative movement, such as slightly more hebrew being incorporated into services, and prayers being said more frequently.

Other issue: I have a friend (actually an exboyfriend, that i’m still friends with) who is also planning to go soon, and we’ve discussed going together.
Advantages: having someone I know, being able to share the memories with someone from my hometown, who I know I’ll still be friends with afterward, he’s an interesting person, and it would be cool to hang out with him
Disadvantages: he is my ex, and i might get annoyed with him really quickly, my sweetie pie would probably worry about me more than if i was there by myself, i might not meet as many new people (but i’m not that social anyway, so i might just keep to myself, who knows), he is pretty secular, so it sounds like he wants to go on a less religious kind of trip than i do.

also, anything else you can share would be very welcome—how much to pack, which sites were your favorite, what you liked most about your organization’s trip, etc

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13 Answers

flameboi's avatar

I don’t know if going to Israel at this moment is a good idea LcG, if I were you, I’d better wait until things get a lil’ bit better…

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

It is not that cold in the winter, but it does rain/hail a lot, especially in Jerusalem and farther north.

I would suggest not going with your ex-boyfriend, because while it might be nice to know someone and be able to reminisce with him afterwards, the cons completely outweigh the benefits. You don’t want to have to sacrifice your religiousness for him, and going on your own means that you’ll be forced to talk to other people (good if your a shy person) and make new friends you might not make otherwise.

timothykinney's avatar

If your Mother would be more likely to let you go with your ex-boyfriend, then you should. But if she doesn’t care either way, I would say let the adventure take you. Traveling alone has a way of reflecting your Self back onto yourself. It can be horrifying, but it’s also very interesting in a contemplative way.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Tim, I think she would be horrified is she knew I was thinking of going with him. Even though he’s Jewish, that doesn’t mean he’s “a nice Jewish boy”. She likes you a lot better, I promise. Also, she doesn’t get to tell me what to do, because birthright is free, so I don’t have to ask her to pay for it or not. It’s my own decision.

lapilofu's avatar

I went to Israel on Birthright this past winter. In response to what flameboi said, it’s not at all dangerous—they keep you very safe and far from the trouble. It’s not extremely cold there, though it did snow while we were up north in the Golan. (But it wasn’t snowing much, and I got the sense that it’s a little rare, because our tour guide was freaking out.) Temperature varies, so pack for all weather really.

If you’re at a school, see if your school organizes a Birthright trip. I went through Oberlin College’s Hillel, and that turned out to be a great choice because I was traveling with people I knew and made friends with some people who I still get to see now that we’re back in the states.

Pack light, be prepared to buy stuff. If you’re looking for a hookah, per chance, you can get them there for $10 and up, which is pretty great. Bring a camera, obviously.

My favorite site was Tzfat. It’s a beautiful city.

Educate yourself about Israel beforehand. It’s useful to know a little about it while you’re traveling through. Prepare yourself against the Zionist propaganda. I don’t consider myself anti-Zionist, per se, but do remember that these people are paying for you to go to Israel because they want you to make aliyah. They’ll say what they can to convince you—a lot of it is very slanted, some of it is outright lies. Though I’m sure that varies from guide to guide.

The trips are very structured—you’re left to yourself almost never. Deciding what trip you go on beforehand will determine how religious your experience is more than whether or not your ex is there. Decide whether or not to go with him based on whether or not you’re willing to go on the same trip.

Remember to say a few shehecheyanus.

If you have the means, I recommend extending your trip. 10 days goes by very quickly and I feel like I only got a cursory glance at most of the sites. I wish I had more time there.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Thanks so much, lapilofu! That was really helpful! GA! The deadline is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I’m still trying to decide if I want to go on this one. I mean, I really really really do want to go on this one, but I’m a little nervous too I guess. Plus my parents are ridiculous. You got a glimpse from my conversation with Tim. I dont want to talk about it. Anyway, THANKS LAPILOFU! I might ask you a few more specific questions as the deadline approaches.


Zen's avatar

Bring gum, Israel’s sucks. Condoms are cheap, as are socks and underwear. Buy the Delta, or Fox brand. Drink Coke the first few days, then ease into the water slowly. It’s fine, but there hasn’t been much rain so it’s just ok-ish – not tasty. Mei Eden is the best mineral water.

Bring suntan lotion, it’s expensive here. Get the converter to 220 electricity for your iphone and ipod.

Don’t buy any CD’s in stores – they are dirt cheap in the Central Bus Station. Ofra Haza et al for your memories – O’ll burn em for ya, save your shekels.

Bring a hat or two.

Go to Buzz Stop, and Mike’s PLace on the beach.

Don’t eat falafel unless there are a lot of people – they don’t change the oil enough, and you’ll get cold balls.

Smile. Bring a camera.

Remember: sun tan lotion. SPF 32 and up.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Sweet! Thanks for the tips, Zen—do you live in Israel??

Kraken's avatar

@Zen Hey buddy wasssup, don’t be a stranger now! I think Florida has trained me to the heat. I believe I’ll take a hat anyway. I do live in sweat-fest, USA anyhow.

Zen's avatar

Hey @Kraken I wish there was a time-stamp here, since we can’t see who’s online unless they are crafting an answer. I don’t know how recent this is, and whether you are here now? I’ll PM you too.

How goes it?

Kraken's avatar

@Zen I just crafted this answer now.
I asked a cute question at the wis and of course I thought of you first.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

[Mod says]: Please take personal discussions to PMs, and keep the thread on-topic.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)

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