By Rachel Brustein, KESHER Taglit-Birthright Israel, NFTY & OSRUI Alumni.
Originally posted on Israel Programs blog on January 22, 2013
Ever since I started going to camp at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in 2006, I had dreamed of going to Israel. When I signed up for a URJ Kesher Birthright trip this past fall, I was not expecting the very wide range of Jewish education from the participants on the trip. There were participants who had not become b’nei mitzvah, those who did not stay active in Jewish life in high school and college, those who had gone to a URJ camp or participated in NFTY, and some who even became b’nei mitzvah on the trip. As I started to meet the people at the beginning of the trip and became familiar with the other participants’ Judaic backgrounds, I quickly appreciated what I had learned at camp and in NFTY.
Three aspects of Judaism that OSRUI emphasizes are ivrit (Hebrew), t’filah (prayer), and limmud (learning). As a camper, I did not quite understand why the counselors tried to speak nearly every camp-related noun only in Hebrew. However, knowing the jumbled mixes of Hebrew and English that would be spoken to me for four weeks a year paid off. As soon as I got to Israel, I was using words and phrases like “ken” (yes) and “lo” (no), and “eifo ha sherutim?” (where is the bathroom) without even thinking about it.
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