On every Israel Outdoors trip, five out of the ten days is spent experiencing Israel alongside Israeli peers on leave from their army service and university studies. This component of the trip is known as the Mifgash (encounter). There is truly no better way to experience Israel than with Israeli friends at your side. This is by far the most meaningful and popular part of the Israel Outdoors program.
The following is an excerpt from an Israeli who joined one of the LA Way trips run by Israel Outdoors together with the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Thank you to the LA Fedaration for sharing. Check out more from the LA Federation about the impact of the Mifgash on the Birthright Israel program.
Even though this trip is about YOU, the Americans, I ended up taking so much for myself than I could ever imagine. [sic]
Even though I’ve been to every place we’ve been to, heard every lecture we were told, it was still so emotional for me to hear those stories, it still amazes me how we, the Jewish people, and my country, Israel, manage to survive so much throughout the years. I came to the trip thinking that I know everything there is to know, but I didn’t think that I could become more attached to my religion, even though I am not religious, and to my country, that I already loved so much. I hope you all remember at least some of the things we learned, and that you will represent the Jewish people and the State of Israel with pride.
And on a more personal note, I just wanted you to know that this trip has changed me. I am a pretty closed up guy with a very hard shell. I never dance, I never sing, and I sure as hell never do stand-up comedy! But you broke it, you broke my shell.
With you guys I did all of the above and I enjoyed every last bit of it. I hope you can understand what a huge change it is for me, many have tried to open me up, but they all failed. With you I felt so confident, and I want to thank you so much! You guys showed me how amazing and awesome you all are, and I am so happy that I got to know you all, each with his own unique character. I wish we could have so much more time together.
I always wanted to go to the US and I always said that the first place I’ll go to will be New York, but nah! LA is my destination now! Hopefully by summertime I’ll manage to save up for a trip there, and meet up with you.
I said it before and I will say it again, whenever you come to Israel, you will always have a place to stay for as long as you want, my place in Tel Aviv will always be open for you. I love you all very much, I miss you so much, I wish you all the very best in life, don’t ever take anything for granted (!!), and I hope we’ll meet again!”