Harrison Resident Felt Connected
During Birthright Trip in Israel

Lillian Appelbaum

Eighteen-year-old Lillian Appelbaum has returned from a May Birthright trip and wanted to share her story. “I’ve heard about Birthright in the past from other friends and family members. I knew that at some point in my adult life I wanted to go on the trip because of the great things I heard. Since I’m planning a medical career, I understood that my future summers will be filled with more jobs surrounding the medical field,” noted the Northeastern University student.


“I remember getting off the plane in Israel. We were all so excited, exhausted and hungry. Our first food after arriving was falafel. It was my first time having Israeli falafel. The falafel in Israel is incomparable to any of the Israeli food that is in America. All my friends and I just sat in complete silence enjoying our pita falafel until we were ready to begin talking about how good it was.


“One main highlight of the trip was a night out in Jerusalem. None of us knew what to expect. It was the night the entire group bonded and became close. It was the night before the flag-day parade in one of the most popular Israeli cities, so we knew it was going to be fun. The shuk was filled with life and culture, unlike anything any of us have seen before. At the end of the night we talked about how much fun we had,” said the Harrison resident. 


“I would say the highlight of the trip was when the entire group was together. One night in Jerusalem, we all sat in a room at the entry of the hotel and just shared some funny school memories. Doing all the activities together brought us closer.


Another highlight was learning more about Jewish culture and Judaism in general. I only knew a little about the Jewish culture and I was fascinated walking around the various markets and the different holy cities.”


“One of the most striking emotions I felt, was at the Western Wall. I’ve been to Israel before but never felt emotion while being at the Kotel. Dima, our tour guide, told us to people-watch. As my friends and I watched the different reactions people had at the wall, it was overwhelming. I felt connected.


“Being in Israel comforted me in the sense that I knew I was part of a majority. I noticed that Israelis are typically more friendly than Americans. Throughout my adulthood, I have noticed that America is very competitive. Although I do not have a full understanding of Israel yet, I noticed that the people in Israel came together to lift each other up.


“I gained a lot from going on Birthright. In terms of knowledge, I learned much more than I came in with about Israel’s geopolitical standpoint. As I continue with my college-life after Birthright, I want to learn more about Israel’s political standpoint as well as help educate others on it. I also gained knowledge about Israeli culture, including foods, music, norms and even picked up some language. I hope the friendships I made on the Birthright trip will last throughout college and my life.”