On July 12, I hopped on a nine-and-a-half-hour plane ride with two of my best friends and 41 other teens to visit the land of Israel for 22 days.
I always knew that visiting Israel would shift my perspective on being Jewish, but being able to experience that change with 43 other like-minded teenagers was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had. My most memorable event happened on the sixth day when we took a trip to the Western Wall. Being able to pray next to 20 other Jewish boys with our tallises and tzitzit in the blistering heat will be an experience I will never forget.
Other than visiting the holy sites of Jerusalem, we did so much more. We experienced life as a bedouin, hiked Masada at the peak of dawn, layered ourselves in mud when we went to the Dead Sea, and so much more. Our trip wasn’t only about experiencing the wonders of Israel, but to educate us on the founding of Israel, real-world conflicts, and how Israel has advanced as a society.
Aside from all the fun I had experienced in the Israeli culture, the biggest takeaway was the value of learning Hebrew. Hebrew is intertwined with Judaism itself, thus prompting me to learn Hebrew when I got back home. This trip allowed me to meet people from Minnesota, Washington, and New York. It has also allowed me to get more in touch with myself.
Ethan Prince traveled to Israel with funding from the Tidewater Jewish Foundation’s Simon Family Passport to Israel Program. The next round of applications opens on October 1, 2021.
For more information, visit bit.ly/tjf-passport, contact Ann Swindell, TJF donor relations and grant manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-965-6106.