Another Meaningful Texas  Birthright Israel Trip

For 10 days over winter break, 75 students traveled to Israel for free with Texas Birthright Israel, the campus Birthright Israel trip for the University of Texas. From December 27 – January 7, Jewish students from all over Texas experienced the adventure of a lifetime as they explored Israel, connected with other Jewish UT students and strengthened their own Jewish Identities. While traveling, the students explored all aspects of Israel from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem to Tzfat, Jewish mysticism’s birthplace, to Masada, the Negev desert, Yad Vashem and an IDF base. As Bianca Schmidt, a Junior majoring in Health and Society from Houston, TX who just returned from the December Birthright trip, said, “Being able to go to Israel and experience modern life in Israel while learning about the history of Israelis and the Jewish people alongside Jewish people from my community has been the trip of a lifetime. It was incredible to witness how beautiful and complicated the state of Israel is.”

Recognizing the importance of Jewish students visiting Israel, the Israeli government, local Federations and private donations fund the trip so every Jewish student can go regardless of financial barriers. Throughout their travels, students connect to the country and the people. Ariana Sonsino, a Junior majoring in Theatre and Dance from San Antonio, TX who also just returned from Birthright, said, “The most important part of the trip for me was getting to form such strong relationships with our Israeli soldiers. It was so special having the opportunity to understand the lives of people the same age, if not younger, than myself. Forming such strong bonds with the Israelis allowed me to see a side of Israel that I had never known existed before. Getting to know such brave individuals has empowered me to take more of a stand in defending Israel in whatever ways I can from across the world. I still don't completely understand how one country and one trip can have such an impact on my life, but I do know for certain that I will never forget this experience.”

Any student who has a Jewish parent or identifies as being Jewish may go on a Birthright trip for free.  Zach Silverman, Texas Hillel's Birthright Engagement Coordinator who led the December trip for the fifth time, says, “Texas Birthright Israel is an amazing opportunity for our students to not only enjoy Israel for the first time, but to do it with their fellow students, immersing themselves into an immediate community when they return to campus!”   

To learn more about Texas Birthright Israel, contact zsilverman@texashillel.org.  The next trip is May 22- June 3, 2018.