Friday, January 14, 2011

Birthright, Taglit, Valuable Program

This past week, I rushed into Jerusalem one day to meet my cousin's daughter.  I hadn't seen her since she was a little girl, and she didn't remember ever seeing me before, though she does remember my parents.  Of all the cousins' kids who could qualify for the special Birthright trip, she's only the second to take advantage of it.  (She's not in this picture of Birthright kids walking in Jerusalem, but it's her group.)

I was very excited to get to see her.  When I first looked at her itinerary, I had thought that we'd have the evening together, but there's almost no flexibility nor free time.  She couldn't meet us for dinner at HaGov, so I quickly (as quickly as I could) got to Jerusalem's restaurant road, Emek Refaim Street and sat near her when she had lunch.  Luckily she also inherited the fast talking on multiple topics gene, so we got a lot of ground covered in thirty minutes.

When I was a little girl I used to love listening to and observing my older cousins from that side of the family.  It was better than a TV show.  Actually, on the other side of the family there are just two "older cousins," and I'm one of them.  We didn't put on shows at all, but we're still very close.

Birthright is a great opportunity, because most American Jews never make it to Israel, so coming on a greatly subsidized trip in one's twenties, when their future is unfolding is fantastic.  My kids were disappointed that they didn't see their cousin, but everyone was busy with inflexible programs.  If we had been able to have dinner with her, she would have met more of the family.

G-d willing she's be back and more cousins will come, and maybe some will even make Israel their home.


Risa said...

Birthright/Taglit is an excellent program. Hving observed it through participants and leaders (Shayke led quite a few groups) I can say that the strict programming is intentional. They aim to make this total immersion in Israel and it seems to work. They can stay on after the initial 10 days and our cousin did. It was then that we got to see and host him.

Batya said...

There were too few spots available, and since the extra time can be at the end only, she had to get back to her studies. Her original plan was to come on an earlier trip and stay longer.