By Saralynn Kupperberg
The ten days that I spent in Israel on Birthright was an experience of a lifetime, and was a trip that made me grow in more ways than I thought I could. Being on this trip allowed me to experience a new culture, meet new people, and fall in love with a country that was not even on my mind only a few months ago. During this trip I met new people I never would have met, those from Hofstra and Ithaca College, and Israeli’s who currently serve in the Israeli Defense Force.
I went on this trip because I knew people who have gone and loved it. In addition, I knew the opportunity was out there, but for two years I was waiting for the perfect time. One day out of pure coincidence, I bumped into someone from Hofstra Hillel, Morgan Waisner, who told me about all of the amazing experiences that people have had in the past. From that moment I was hooked. I discovered that there was never going to be a perfect time to go, I just had to go and make it perfect. Looking back now, I went during the perfect time, because I went during a time that fit my schedule, with the best people, during a time when I was ready, and was able to create the moments that I will never forget.
During my ten days in Israel I had so many amazing experiences. One of my favorites occurred when we all got our first glimpse at the city of Jerusalem. Our tour guide told us to all close our eyes, and to close the shades on our bus as we drove to a scenic overlook of the city, so we could all see the city for the first time together. When we got there it was cold, it had just started to drizzle, and we did not know what we were about to see. When our tour guide told us to open our eyes, I was in awe of the sight that stood in front of me. The sight was beautiful, vast, and nothing like I thought i would see. The sight caused me to break out in goose-bumps, and I began to tear up. Just then we all began to say the Shehechiyanu. Soon after, one of the tour guide’s pulled out his clarinet, and we all began to dance together on top of Jerusalem. I danced with the new friends I had made on the trip, and I felt a sense of community with everyone. It was fantastic! My lungs started to burn from the mix of the cold air and the dancing, but I didn’t care – I was in Jerusalem. Just before we left to go back on the bus and officially enter the city, I took one final look and had a moment when I realized that I had made it.
Saralynn Kupperberg is a junior Public Relations major from Wantagh, NY. She is the secretary for PRSSA and a member of Entertainment Unlimited, as well as a proud member of Hofstra Hillel. She had the great opportunity to explore Israel this past January with students from Hofstra Hillel.