an introduction

I recently returned from a Birthright Israel trip a few days ago and want to use this blog to relate some of my experiences. My first thought before typing anything was: would publishing a sometimes unflattering account of the program be lashon hara? The Birthright trip has caused me to ask this question. To prevent offense, I've changed the names of everyone involved.

The next question is whether this blog can have positive effects, and thus be totally exempt from the traditional Jewish prohibition of lashon hara. I think the blog can prepare people for what to expect on a Birthright Trip, as well as offer suggestions on how to get ready. In addition, I hope it can serve as a temporary epicenter for meaningful discussions about Zionists, Jews, Palestinians, and the like.

A mountain view in the Judean Desert

Not all trips are exactly the same so I can only relay thoughts about my own trip, though I suspect in many essential ways, Birthright trips are very similar. I'm sure that some trips have a more transparent agenda than mine, and some less. I would love to have some guest writers post on their own experiences.

Both myself and others on the trip were intellectually unprepared in many ways. It's hard to be critical about something when you don't know enough about the issue. I have used the time after the trip to think critically about some of the narratives crafted by our trip organizers (ie. the indisputable legitimacy of a Jewish state, the importance of marrying within the Jewish community). Post-Birthright I've also thought about what ideas and information trip organizers failed to mention, which I will share here.

I hope that you can gain some insight from this blog. I don't think I would advise anyone against a Birthright trip, after all, it's free and it's a chance to see another country. But I hope that future participants come armed with relevant questions and a skeptical mindset. I also hope that people choose their trip carefully.

Excerpts from the journal I kept during my trip will be in italics.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this blog, I am going on birth right in a few weeks, and I am preparing myself emotionally for these discussions. I will definitely check out your reading suggestions.

United_Partisan said...

You're welcome. You've actually inspired me to work on another post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing all of this. I'm going on a birthright trip in two weeks, and I'm considerably nervous since I'm an atheist and also visibly a gay woman. Prepping for this and worrying about being sent home if I say the wrong thing has been the most stressful time of this trip.

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