It had been almost three years since they last traveled to Israel, but on May 19 UConn Hillel was back at it, leading a 10-day exciting and educational Birthright Israel trip to the Jewish state for 32 students, plus Sapir Frieman, the Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow, and Edina Oestreicher, UConn Hillel’s executive director. The jam-packed itinerary included stops at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, Mt. Herzl and Yad Vashem; a tour of the Golan Heights; rafting on the Jordan River; a night spent in Bedouin tents in the desert; a hike up Masada; and swimming in the Dead Sea. The trip culminated in Tel Aviv where the group enjoyed a mouth-watering culinary tour of Carmel Market, a graffiti tour of the Florentine neighborhood and a dip in the waters of the magnificent Mediterranean. Highlights of the trip including a Hebrew naming ceremony at Masada and a b’nai mitzvah ceremony in Tel Aviv. Hannah Mallon (’24) called Birthright Israel the “best experience” of her life. “Not only did I get to travel to the destination of my dreams, but I was immediately immersed in its culture with friends and became very close with my fellow trip participants. I feel so lucky to have been given this opportunity to see all of Israel’s beauty, taste its amazing food and participate in meaningful activities you can’t do anywhere else. I came home with so many unforgettable memories and lasting friendships.” For Lyla White (’24), visiting the Golan Heights was especially meaningful. “It was amazing to hear about the history while looking at the land where everything happened. From Mt. Bental we could see Syria and Lebanon and even had the opportunity to explore a military bunker,” she said. Birthright Israel is an educational trip that ensures that every eligible young Jewish adult around the world, especially those less connected, is given the opportunity to visit Israel. UConn Hillel offers two Birthright trips each, one in May and one in December.