This summer more than 1,550 young adults (the largest amount ever) from diverse backgrounds and communities will experience Israel through Israel Free Spirit, an official Birthright Israel trip provider. Before the trip, many participants have never had the opportunity to genuinely connect to their Jewish identity.
The climax of every Israel Free Spirit Birthright trip is highlighted by the unforgettable climb of Masada. And if the scenery and great physical accomplishment are not enough, waiting for these young adults at the top of Masada is the opportunity to experience the bar or bat mitzvah they never had.
Here is just 1 story of how OU Israel Free Spirit’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies are impacting the next generation of Jewish young adults in an authentic way:
I felt so touched by being Bat Mitzvahed on top of the Masada. It was a surreal and truly enlightening experience. I was not Bat Mitzvahed growing up, and when I told my Grandpa that I would have the opportunity to do it, he couldn’t be more happy. I did it for him, I did it for myself and I did it to feel closer to my heritage.
I also have some exciting news to share. In 2012 on my Birthright Israel trip with OU Israel Free Spirit I met one of the Israeli participants who was traveling with us. We stayed in touch for the past 6 years. He lives in Tel Aviv and I live in New Jersey and while I was visiting him for Passover this past month, we got engaged! We wanted to THANK YOU for the blessing of the trip and for having our Jewish roots bring us together. The best part was, he proposed to me in Jerusalem in the exact same location where we took our first picture together on Israel Free Spirit Birthright. Thank you thank you thank you for giving us the opportunity to be brought together. -Abigial Banegas
We’re celebrating the moments these bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies create by raising $100,000 on June 13. Your support will allow future Israel Free Spirit participants to share in this once-in-a-lifetime event.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.