Joe Getzoff is a 23-old recent grad of Muhlenberg College (Allentown, PA) where he majored in English and Religion. In January, 2006 Joe participated in a Birthright Israel trip. He is currently the Receptionist/Administrative Assistant here at the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation.
Birthright Israel (taglit in Hebrew) was launched in 2000 with impetus and funding from Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinheart. Its main goal is to get young Jews to visit Israel at no cost to the participants. The trips are ten days long. Birthright has sent over 100,000 young Jews to Israel at a cost of more than $250 million to the program. Quite a feat!
Given how powerful and complex a trip to Israel can be and the short timeframe and focus of the Birthright program, some participants may feel disoriented and/or confused - awash in multiple feelings. Joe was just such a person. His journal is a poetic/artistic expression of some of the feelings that were stirred up by the trip. In his own words:
[These journal entries are] not a linear report on Birthright Israel. They do not solve how I feel about Israel, or Judaism. They are not a political statement. They are uncomfortable and self-conscious. They are small snippets of my Israel experience. They are snapshots of my Judaism.
We invite comments. This is not a forum to debate the Birthright Israel program. We invite folks to respond to the specifics of Joe's story and to reflect on their own trips to Israel in light of Joe's. We'd especially like to hear from people who 18 - 30.
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