By Gabrielle Hernandez
The Israel Discovered – Perspectives Trip is a selective trip that takes a group of Jewish and non-Jewish student leaders from this university to Israel. The trip provides students who want to learn more about Israel with the opportunity to explore the country.
The 10-day trip includes destinations like the Old City of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Haifa and Akko and Ramallah (the capital of the Palestinian Authority). It also brings in a wide range of professionals, such as journalists, politicians, intellectuals and various other leaders from religious, secular, Christian, Jewish-Israeli, Druze, Palestinian and Muslim communities. Participants on the trip learn more about the issues and conflicts in Israel, as well as political, religious and cultural aspects that influence and impact it.
Rohini Nambiar, a senior public health science major, attended the trip in January 2018. “Overall, this trip was very amazing—one of the most meaningful things I have done and I thank Maryland Hillel and UMD for letting me experience Israel!” said Nambiar.
Going into the trip, Nambiar did not know what to expect, but came out with new experiences and formed lasting friendships.
“I would have never guessed the amount of new friendships that were created, the awareness we gained about a very important international conflict or how emotional the entire experience was,” said Nambiar.
The trip includes both Jewish and non-Jewish student leaders, which could cause a divide. But Nambiar, who is not Jewish, did not notice any polarization between the two during her experience.
“I wouldn’t say there were stark differences between the Jewish experiences and non-Jewish experiences. I will cherish all of the opportunities we got during the trip from celebrating Shabbat with Rabbi Ari Israel’s mom and family to visiting mosques and churches all across Israel,” said Nambiar.
However, Leah Barteldes, a senior government and politics and public policy major, who also attended the trip in January 2018, said she noticed a slight difference between the experiences of Jewish and non-Jewish participants.
“The Jewish students served as cultural and educational guides with us, showing us around certain cities and giving recommendations for food, tourism, nightlife and more. They also shared with us Jewish religion and customs,” said Barteldes in a written statement.
Veronica Leifer, a sophomore biology and psychology major, will attend the trip this January.
“I am really excited to get to know a lot of people around campus. I haven’t found that there are many opportunities like this where lots of people from different backgrounds all choose to share an experience during my time at Maryland, so I’m excited to take advantage of this one and get to know people who impact our campus in such meaningful ways,” said Leifer.
The 2019 trip will depart on January 7 and will return January 17 or 18.