The Power of Israel
By David Solkowitz
It is one thing to go to Israel with family.
It is another thing to go to Israel with peers or friends.
But, to go to Israel with complete strangers, that was a completely new and unique experience. There is something empowering about this type of trip and the way that it has the ability to bring people together and create powerful, immediate bonds.
To say that I had fun, or even that I had a blast being on Israel 2.0 - a non-profit organization sponsoring educational tours to Israel for students and young professions - would be an understatement. Bleary-eyed and weary from a day of traveling, this group of complete strangers made fast friends - maybe it was the lack of sleep or the excitement at the prospect of arrival but it was instantaneous nevertheless.
Arguably, the reason any trip to Israel winds up being special is the people and that was certainly the case with this trip. It did not matter whether we were in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tzfat, Sderot, or Tiberias, with each shared experience the level of our connection deepened.
There is something about young Jewish adults being in Israel together that brings out a sense of unity and togetherness. This is a feeling I have come to enjoy and love experiencing. It is a feeling that I have very rarely found anywhere else and utterly unique to my time in Israel.
But, I found myself asking, why was that the case?
When you meet fellow Jews in the Diaspora, there is not always that bond or that immediate sense of unity and togetherness. While when in Israel, it seems that all the rules change. The questions you may have been afraid to ask before are suddenly the first ones out of your mouth. It takes less time to reach the more personal, intimate emotions and characteristics of those around you. The bonds forged are not only stronger but also seem to have more longevity.
I always had this frame of reference - one that many of you might know - that students and young adults set out and Birthright and come back with friends for life after only 10 days. Being a part of this experience, helped me realize this concept know as the 'Birthright Bond'.
On the third night, sitting around a fire surrounded by Bedouin tents late at night, the beginnings of long-lasting bonds were already starting to form. Even though I did not yet know everyone's name, there was a feeling of closeness. By the end of the week we had nicknames and felt like we had known each other for years.
Where else can you become such good friends with someone who you have only known for a few days, or even a few hours?
After this experience, I was able to answer the question: the power of Israel is that it brings Jews together irrespective of background or point of view.
That was the best part of my trip - being able to make memories and experience Israeli culture, the land and it's people with new-found friends - the magic lies in how fast these connections are made and that is the essential element that makes Israel so powerful.
David Solkowitz is an intern for Israel Forever. A Jewish Studies and Journalism major at Indiana University, David is a dedicated and passionate student when it comes to Israel. In his free time, David enjoys writing about his experiences, travels and connection to the Jewish homeland.