What We Brought Back: Jewish Life After Birthright- Reflections by Alumni of Taglit-Birthright Israel Trips

The Toby Press  2010

 
This latest addition to the growing genre of Birthright literature is pure fun. Billed as “liner notes for the latest album of Jewish life in America,” it’s a collection of college application-length personal essays by twentysomethings who participated in Birthright Israel within the last five years.

The narrators are comedians, performers, playwrights, writers, artists, and dancers, but above all, they’re thinkers sharing at least one common denominator: they all attended the free, 10-day organized tours of the homeland through Birthright Israel. Most of them report struggling with connecting to their Jewish identity throughout their childhoods and young adult lives.

Some have epiphanies about their connection to their heritage at the usual spots—the top of Masada at sunrise, the shores of the Dead Sea, before the Western Wall—but there are other unexpected moments. One young music critic found his sense of belonging while riding a mosh pit at a kibbutz bar outside of Jerusalem.

But the common experience planned so carefully by Birthright organizers can lead down many paths. Some marry each other, some return to Israel and some don’t. As one young woman who didn’t heed the siren call to go back to Israel writes, “The shame—I can’t get it out of my head. In Israel I’d felt something so strongly, and then I walked away.” 

 A Reading at the Strand


 







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