I was so excited when my son Lyle expressed an interest in going to Israel. He attended a Jewish overnight camp (Camp Tevya), but stopped going before the summer his age group went to Israel. I had heard wonderful things about Birthright trips and began to investigate various trip organizers. I finally settled on the Boston University Chapter of Hillel because it seemed to offer a nice balance between the secular and the religious experience. I was very impressed with all the facilitators I spoke with at Hillel. There was a great comfort level for me that my son would be taken care of very well.
Lyle and my nephew Louis have a wonderful relationship. They are the same age and have a lot in common. Unfortunately for us, my brother and his family live on Long Island and we live here in Boston so Lyle and Louis do not get to spend too much time together. Lyle has always enjoyed his cousin and my sister in law’s nephews’ company. None of them had been to Israel and I thought this would be a fantastic opportunity for the four of them to spend some extended time together. As children of Holocaust Survivors, my brother and I had a very small, practically non-existent extended family. Our “family” consisted mainly of our parents’ closest friends, all of whom were also survivors. It has always saddened me that I live so far away from my brother and his family. I hoped that taking this trip together would strengthen the bond between Lyle and his cousins. The trip far surpassed his and my expectations. The first thing he said to my husband and me when we picked him up at the airport was, “This trip has changed my life.” He was enormously affected by being in a land where he truly felt at home, somewhere where “everyone is just like me”. The impression made on him by the land of Israel, its people and culture will stay with him forever.