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Jul 1, 2024

Community Birthright Israel Trip Deepens Understanding of Israelis’ Experiences

As it does every year, Federation’s Young Leadership Division (YLD) led a Community Birthright Israel Trip this summer, taking 22 Miamians to our Jewish homeland for 10 days. But this year’s journey was unlike any previous one, coming just eight months after the horrors of October 7.

From June 16 to 27, the participants, ages 22-26, explored Israel, visiting historic and religious sites and connecting with their Jewish heritage. But most meaningful was who they were traveling with: eight Israeli peers, all of whom shared experiences of 10/7.

The Israeli element of the Federation-funded Birthright Israel program is called “The Mifgash” (Hebrew for “encounter”) and provides Diaspora participants the chance to meet Israeli soldiers and young professionals, who travel with them for at least half the journey. During the trip, participants typically discuss topics such as Israel’s role in the world and the global Jewish community. But this year’s trip was anything but typical, as most of the Mishgash participants were affected by 10/7; many lost friends or were called to serve in the IDF (or were currently serving). When the group visited the Tribe of Nova Music Festival site, for example, a few of the Israelis share personal stories of loved ones murdered by Hamas.

“Many people questioned why I chose to come to Israel during a war,” admitted participant Macy Goldberg, “but I can confidently say it was one of my best decisions. I felt the love, unity and support from the Israeli people and their strength has brought me more pride to share with my community in the US.”

In addition to the Tribe of Nova Festival site, highlights of this trip, organized in collaboration with Israel Outdoors, included:

  • Caesarea National Park
  • Hike on Mount Arbel
  • Water park in the Galilee 
  • ATVing in Moshav Amnon
  • Playing with students at a girls’ school in Pardes Chana/Karkur (one of Miami’s longstanding partnership cities)
  • Hostage Square 
  • Tours of the Tower of David and Old Jerusalem 
  • Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat at the Kotel 
  • Yad Vashem 
  • Har Herzl National military cemetery 
  • Masada at sunrise (and b’nai mitzvahs there) 
  • Dead Sea 
  • Tour of Walls of Hope graffiti, created after the start of the Israel-Hamas war
  • Tour of Jaffa

Participants also visited Miami’s partnership city of Yerucham in the Negev region, where they learned about the community’s history, visited with locals and volunteered at a center for girls at risk. There, they painted a mural and gardened with the residents. Yerucham continues to host many Israeli families forced to evacuate their communities after 10/7. To learn more about our Miami-Yerucham Partnership, click here.

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